Amy Dominguez, email@example.com
Cheyenne, WY – After months of feedback from concerned Rocky Mountain Power customers opposed to the utility’s unprecedented rate hike, yesterday marked the conclusion of the Public Service Commission’s (PSC) contentious rate case hearing and public comment period. Parties to the case will file closing briefs, and the PSC plans to deliberate in a public meeting on November 28 on whether it will approve or deny the historic rate increase.
In its proposal introduced in March, Rocky Mountain Power suggested to hike electric rates and to charge a one-time fuel cost adjustment over 12 months that, combined, would raise rates by nearly 30%, increasing household utility bills by an estimated $19.94 to start in January. While throughout the public comment period some attempted to scapegoat increasing costs on renewables, Rocky Mountain Power clarified that the proposed increases are almost entirely due to the significant spikes of highly volatile fossil fuel prices, underscoring why this risky investment would be a gamble funded by ratepayers.
Rocky Mountain Power is also requesting to eliminate an important cost sharing band that is intended to protect customers and incentivize the utility to try to reduce costs. This mechanism splits fuel costs that are above a baseline established in Rocky Mountain Power’s rate case 80/20 between customers and shareholders. By eliminating the 80/20 sharing band, Rocky Mountain Power would have 100 percent of the cost risk for unpredictable fossil fuel prices shifted onto the shoulders of customers, allowing Rocky Mountain Power to recklessly spend on ratepayers’ dime. In a last minute proposal during the hearing, the Company offered to delay recovery of some fuel costs, which would reduce the immediate rate impact but could still ultimately result in a nearly 30% rate increase by next July. As part of this proposal, Rocky Mountain Power requested that the 80/20 sharing band not apply to the deferred costs.
Throughout the public comment period, the PSC received over 3,200 comments from the public opposing the rate hike that would burden Wyomingites, impact community members on a fixed income, and undermine small businesses. During the hearing, Sierra Club’s expert witness, Ron Binz called for the Commission to reject eliminating the sharing band and to consider reverting to its previous standard of 70/30.
“Instead of protecting the pocketbooks of customers, Rocky Mountain Power has demonstrated that it’s only interested in protecting its bottom-line, especially as it requests to cut a cost sharing band meant to incentivize the utility to minimize costs,” said Rob Joyce, Acting Director of Sierra Club’s Wyoming Chapter. “Wyomingites have made our needs clear – that the PSC should ensure that Rocky Mountain Power acts responsibly, and protect customers who are already struggling to make ends meet.”
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.