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Dueling briefs in PUC process
John Bowman, Siskiyou Daily News July 30. 2012
On July 20, Siskiyou County filed a Reply Brief with the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) registering their opposition to PacifiCorp's request to increase their current surcharge for Klamath Dam removal.
According to PacifiCorp, the current average monthly surcharge for domestic customers in California is $1.61 and the proposed average increase will be twenty-one cents, raising the total to an average of $1.82 per month.
In their brief, the county alleges that, "PacifiCorp and other parties to the KHSA have filed opening briefs that consistently misstate or obscure the facts, circumstances, and consequences of the requested increase in the Klamath surcharge, particularly in relation to compliance with the KHSA."
PacifiCorp, in a Reply Brief of their own, disputes the validity of the county's objections.
The first objection raised in Siskiyou County's document addresses the county's concern with compliance with the terms of the Klamath Hydroelectric Settlement Agreement (KHSA).
According to the county, "PacifiCorp and the other KHSA parties present a number of claims in their opening briefs that the surcharge increase is necessary to meet the terms of the KHSA and will in fact meet those terms. That is simply not the case."
The county argues that - because the initially requested start date for a surcharge increase was April 1 but has been revised to Aug. 15 - "modifying the amortization period will not result in collection of the funds in the amount and under the timelines established by the KHSA."
Siskiyou County feels that PacifiCorp's alleged failure to adhere to the timelines of the KHSA diminishes the justification for a surcharge increase.
Bob Gravely, PacifiCorp Public Relations Officer says, "There is no automatic trigger that terminates the KHSA if collections are off by a couple of months. The agreement is flexible enough to allow for small variations in timing."
The annual amount of surcharge collected by PacifiCorp has been capped at two percent of the company's Annual Base Retail Revenues as of January 1, 2010. That amount equals $1,732,047 per year.
The second objection raised in Siskiyou County's document alleges that growth in demand for power between now and Jan. 1, 2020 (the target date for total surcharge collection) will result in a total annual collection exceeding the two percent cap.
Again, PacifiCorp disagrees.
According to Gravely, "The company will monitor the surcharge amounts over the next eight years to ensure collections don't exceed the targeted $13.76 million. We would revise the rate downward if that happens to ensure we don't exceed the cap."
The county's document also briefly restates the belief that satisfaction of all KHSA requirements by 2020 is unlikely and increased surcharge collection is therefore unnecessary and inappropriate.
"The larger issues related to the failures to meet major milestones in the implementation of the KHSA are relevant to the appropriateness and equity of imposing additional financial burdens on the ratepayers," states the brief filed by Siskiyou County.
PacifiCorp's brief states, "Because parties to the KHSA were particularly concerned with achieving a 2020 date for facilities removal, the KHSA was specifically drafted to ensure that the targeted 2020 facilities removal date would not be impacted as a result of delays in achieving the interim milestones contained in the agreement." The company remains confident that all requirements will be met by 2020.
PacifiCorp has requested a decision from the PUC by Aug. 15, but no decision date has been predicted by the agency.
To view these or other California PUC documents go to cpuc.ca.gov/puc/documents.



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