PacifiCorp seeks 13 percent
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- PacifiCorp, the
state's second-largest utility with 535,000
Oregon customers, is seeking to raise its
electricity rates by 13.2 percent.
The Portland-based company filed the
request with the Oregon Public Utility
Commission on Thursday. If approved, it
would take effect in December.
The request included a 10.8 percent hike
in rates for residential customers, and a
19.8 percent increase for large industrial
customers. Coupled with a $1 increase in the
company's customer charge, an average
Pacific Power residential customer using
1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month
would see their bill for electricity service
jump from $67 a month to $75.25 a month.
The company said the increase is needed
because of the higher cost of natural gas,
investments in generation, transmission and
distribution infrastructure, and general
The company has requested five general
rate increases in the last 10 years. The PUC
granted a 3.17 percent rate increase in
The new request comes at the same time
the utility is being acquired by MidAmerican
Energy Holdings Co., an Iowa-based energy
conglomerate that is majority-owned by
billionaire investor Warren Buffett's
Berkshire Hathaway. The companies aim to
close the deal by the end of March.
PacifiCorp has seldom received the full
increases it has requested from Oregon
regulators, but Thursday's filing still
bothered consumer groups.
"This is PacifiCorp style," said Bob
Jenks, executive director of the Citizens'
Utility Board of Oregon. "They come in and
ask for a huge increase right on the heels
of their last case."
Michael Early, executive director of the
Industrial Customers of Northwest Utilities,
said he was concerned about the impact the
proposed increase might have on Oregon's
PacifiCorp has consistently underearned
its allowed rate of return, which stands at
10 percent. In prepared testimony submitted
with Thursday's request, the company says
its financial performance lags behind most
investor-owned utilities in the country,
partially because of unfavorable regulatory
"We don't go into these things lightly,
or without being able to prove that this is
necessary," said Bekki Witt, a PacifiCorp
spokeswoman. "Yes, we have gotten smaller
increases in past cases. But we're thinking
we're in a position where we'll get a fair
and reasonable outcome."
Information from: The Oregonian,