May 16, 2005
73rd Session, Issue 10
Senator Doug Whitsett district 28,
followed by Willamette Week article
Bill 1058 sponsored by Senator Whitsett
(bold words were
already included in this Press Release. KBC)
Most of us have lived long enough to discover that
often words can mean very different things depending
on who is using them. Let me provide you with a
Last Wednesday, a
“Willamette Week,” named me their “Rogue of the
week.” Whether this distinction is dubious or
admirable depends greatly on one’s point of view.
While the editors of Willamette Week certainly
intended to impugn yours truly, my fellow caucus
members gave me a standing ovation at last week’s
Apparently it is nearly unprecedented for a freshman
Senator to so quickly draw “Willamette
what is the basis for this ire? It has to do with
my introduction of Senate Bill 1058.
Senate Bill 1058 would have required electric
utilities to mitigate potential “rate shock” that
occurs when rate increases exceed 50 percent in any
12 month period. The bill was intended
to protect all energy consumers against
unsustainable utility rate increases.
While the bill was written as a statewide measure,
I admit that my most immediate concern was and is
the water users of the
Klamath Basin who
face drastic utility rate increases when their
negotiated contract with PacifiCorp expires next
year. The intent
was not to cap the rates, but simply to spread
potentially drastic rate increase out over a period
After hours of negotiation and work we concluded
that in order for the bill to receive wide support
it would have do be tailored to the situation faced
by the irrigators who are parties to the contract.
I resisted attempts to tailor the bill. I
preferred to provide the protections that the bill
offers to all ratepayers. However, the tailoring
was necessary to gain the wide support needed to
pass the legislation and
irrigators with much needed protection from “rate
shock.” I am very optimistic about passage.
don’t doubt that to many people in
interests, concerns and way of life of rural
Oregonians seem “roguish.” That is why we have had
to endure years of attack on our way of life. They
have shut down our forests, leaving us financially
vulnerable and unable to provide effectively for our
schools and communities. They have imposed
environmental restrictions and, and an endless
number of boards, commissions, plans and
administrative rules that always seem to neglect or
marginalize the rural way of life.
They have meddled in
our way of life and then complained that we are not
financially able to “pull our own weight.”
That being the case, I won’t argue with the label of
rogue. As long
as rogue means someone who is willing to stand up
and protect the rural way of life from the meddling
ways of those who do not understand it, I am happy
to be a “rogue.” I hope that you will
continue to stand with me.
Information on all the bills that Senator Whitsett
is Sponsoring, visit his legislative Web site at:
Please Contact or Visit us in Salem
Address: 900 Court St NE.,
S-302, Salem, OR, 97301
|We'll give this
week's Rogue, Sen. Doug Whitsett
(R-Klamath Falls), an "A" for audacity but an
"F'' for fairness and disclosure.
Whitsett is working to protect a sweet
deal-of-nearly-a-century for some of his
Southern Oregon constituents who farm in the
Klamath Irrigation Project. The deal: their
electricity costs haven't risen since 1917.
About 2,500 recipients get an annual subsidy
from PacifiCorp totaling about $10 million,
according to the Oregon Natural Resources
Council. That's welfare unavailable to other
Oregon farmers, let alone the average ratepayer.
(Two of the gravy-trainers are Whitsett and K
Falls' private Reames Golf & Country Club.)
The subsidy stems from a deal PacifiCorp's
predecessor cut with the federal Bureau of
Reclamation: In exchange for rights to exploit
hydropower from Upper Klamath Lake, the utility
would provide cheap power for irrigation pumps.
Of course, that subsidy doesn't really come
out of PacifiCorp's pocket; instead, ratepayers,
many of them Portlanders, make up the difference
in higher rates.
Faced with expiration of their subsidy next
year, the juice hogs appealed to both PacifiCorp
and the state Public Utility Commission for some
relief. No dice, both said.
So last month, Whitsett introduced Senate
Bill 1058, a stealth bailout of the Klamath
welfare kings masquerading as a
The bill does not mention Klamath farmers. It
does not mention PacifiCorp or any other
specifics. It states only that if any group of
utility customers faces a price hike of greater
than 50 percent in any 12-month period, the PUC
will step in to phase in said increase over
seven years-which the ONRC says will cost
another $20 million.
Whitsett was unavailable for comment.
"There's no justification for this subsidy
continuing," says ONRC's Jim McCarthy.
Senate Bill 1058
sponsored by Senator Whitsett
73rd OREGON LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY--2005
Senate Bill 1058
Sponsored by Senator WHITSETT
The following summary is not prepared by
the sponsors of the measure and is not a
part of the body thereof subject to
consideration by the Legislative Assembly.
It is an editor˘s brief statement of the
essential features of the measure as
Requires electric utility
to mitigate rate increase that exceeds 50
percent during first 12 months that
increase is in effect. Provides that
mitigation be achieved by providing rate
credits. Declares emergency, effective on
A BILL FOR AN ACT
Relating to electricity
rates; and declaring an emergency.
Be It Enacted by the People of the State
SECTION 1. Section 2 of
this 2005 Act is added to and made a part
of ORS 757.205 to
757.280. SECTION 2. (1) As used in this
section, “electric utility” has the
meaning given that term in ORS 757.600.
(2) If any rate increase
proposed by an electric utility would
result in an increase in the
cost of electricity for any class of
customers of the electric utility
described in subsection
(3) of this section that
exceeds 50 percent during the first 12
months that the increase is in effect, the
Public Utility Commission shall require
the electric utility to mitigate the rate
increase by providing rate credits to the
class of customers. The rate credits
provided by an electric utility under this
section shall automatically decrease each
year to the lowest credit necessary to
avoid a rate increase that is greater than
50 percent in any subsequent year.
(3) This section applies
to the following classes of customers:
(a) Customers who pay for electricity
under the same rate schedule and who will
experience a rate increase by reason of
changes in the rate schedule; and
(b) Any group of customers that will
experience a rate increase by reason of a
to a different rate schedule.
(4) Notwithstanding subsection (2) of this
section, the commission may not require
an electric utility mitigate a rate
increase for a class of customers if the
electric utility requests a rate increase
for all customers of the electric utility
that is in excess of the limitation
imposed by subsection (2) of this section
and the commission finds that the increase
is necessary to allow the electric utility
to recover its costs.
SECTION 3. This 2005 Act
being necessary for the immediate
preservation of the public
peace, health and safety, an emergency is
declared to exist, and this 2005 Act takes
effect on its passage.
NOTE: Matter in boldfaced
type in an amended section is new; matter
[italic and bracketed] is existing law to
New sections are in