AARP’s advocacy resulted in cutting Rocky Mountain Power’s request for higher rates in half. In May, Rocky Mountain Power got approval from the Wyoming Public Service Commission to increase residential utility charges to help pay for a coal fueled power plant, infrastructure improvements, and an expansion of wind energy projects.
For residential customers, rates will increase 5.2 percent in July and 1.9 percent in February. That averages out to $2.10 per month for a customer with average usage, according to the PSC. Businesses will see a 5.1 percent bump in July and 1.9 percent in February.
In October 2009, Utah-based Rocky Mountain Power had requested a $71 million rate hike. But after AARP and others protested, the utility agreed to a compromise of $35.5 million, which the PSC approved. In addition, a case related to lowering surcharges related to fuel costs was consolidated into the rate case, resulting in an even lower rate impact.
“What we accomplished essentially was to get the increase reduced to something people could stand,” said Kate Fox, a lawyer at Davis and Cannon, who represented AARP in the case.
Rocky Mountain Power is Wyoming’s largest utility and the rate hike will affect about 134,600 customers in the Green River basin, Big Horn Basin, Rawlins and Laramie.
This adjustment is not likely to be the last. Chris Petrie, chief counsel for the commission, said Rocky Mountain Power is in the midst of investing in its infrastructure and capacity, thus customers can expect more rate hikes as soon as next year.
“You’re probably still in a period of relatively frequent rate cases,” Petrie said.