Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) is consistent in its requests for rate increases; they are filed nearly every year, with requested increases typically over ten percent. And once again this year, AARP Utah intervened in the case to represent residential ratepayers.
See Also: Affordable Utilities Now
As before, we hired utilities expert Charles Johnson and attorney Bruce Plenk to analyze the evidence submitted and make arguments to keep rates fair and reasonable. RMP originally asked for $172 million in additional revenue from their customers, which would have translated into a 10.5% increase for residential ratepayers. Thanks to the work of AARP Utah’s experts, the Utah Office of Consumer Services, and Salt Lake Community Action Program (Salt Lake CAP), among others, this year’s increase has been cut to 5.64% under a settlement agreement, with an additional 2.89% approved for next year. RMP cannot file another case until 2014.
Among the key issues AARP Utah addressed was keeping rates low for senior citizens and low-income consumers, so that people who could least afford high utility rates or had lower usage were not paying a disproportional share of the overall increase. RMP has sought increases to expand capacity, but also tried to collect higher rates for the cost of removing a dam on the Oregon-California border, a request that was denied.
Expert Charles Johnson also fought the increase of a fixed customer charge, which in some states has risen to as much as $20 month. Utah’s rates allow for some fixed costs to be charged against rates (such as for maintenance of equipment) but are structured so that lower-end users will not see spikes in their electricity bills in the coming months.
AARP Utah encourages ratepayers to become involved in utility rate cases by filing comments and attending public hearings on proposed increases. For more information about how to make your voice heard on rising utility costs, go to the Utah Public Service Commission website.