Jessica Cejnar Andrews / Thursday, May 5 @ 2:34 p.m. / Infrastructure

Pacific Power Seeks Rate Adjustment for its California Customers Citing Proposing to Invest in 'Wildfire Mitigation Strategies'


Pacific Power, the utility that serves Del Norte County, is seeking a 25.7 percent rate adjustment for its California customers by 2023.

From a Pacific Power news release:

PORTLAND, Ore., (May 5, 2022) — Today Pacific Power filed a general rate case with the California Public Utilities Commission proposing a 25.7 percent rate adjustment, or $28 million, to support investments in wildfire mitigation strategies and enhanced vegetation management practices while also responding to inflationary impacts.

“We have been working diligently for years to hold energy prices down for our nearly 48,000 customers, and while our core operations are efficient, we are accelerating essential investments in the power grid to maintain safety and reliability in the face of extreme weather events that are becoming the norm instead of the exception,” said Matt McVee, vice president of regulatory policy and operations. “We are in a period of significant change with environmental, economic and regulatory factors affecting how we deliver power to the communities we serve.”
 
Pacific Power’s resilience improvement plans in northern California are designed to minimize outages and increase public safety and have been thoroughly reviewed by state regulators. Elements include:

Installing 274 line-miles of covered overhead wire to protect against trees and limbs producing a potential ignition.  
Installing 98 system protective devices that will make localized public safety power shutoffs, which are sometimes necessary to avert potential wildfire ignition, as brief and geographically limited as possible.
Investing in 80 weather stations, hiring full-time meteorologists and expanding emergency management staff to increase situational awareness of local weather conditions and to better collaborate with local emergency officials.
Enhanced vegetation management that includes annual inspections, radial pole clearing and increased trimming clearances in High Fire Threat Districts.

Together, the company’s investments in weather modeling and fire risk data analytics tools have created an industry-leading system that informs operational decision-making. This includes the implementation of a custom Weather Research & Forecast model that frequently provides weather and fuels forecast data to enhance situational awareness.

The California Public Utilities Commission will make a final decision on customer rates after extensive analysis of the company proposals and public hearings. Rates would take effect no earlier than Jan. 1, 2023, if approved.
 
Helping Customers with Increased CARE Discount
 
Pacific Power’s most vulnerable customers can access a variety of bill support programs through local community action agencies. In addition, the company supports the California CARE program. In 2021, close to one third of Pacific Power’s 36,000 residential customers received discounts toward their bill payments through the CARE program, which amounted to $3.6 million in bill discounts. In this filing, Pacific Power is proposing to increase the amount of the discount offered to CARE-eligible households from 20 percent to 25 percent. If approved, this additional discount would reduce the impact of rate adjustments to the most vulnerable customers.
 
Pacific Power is also proposing a Time of Use option that will enable many customers to better manage their energy bills by shifting usage to times of day when electricity is less expensive. While the ability of an individual customer to save money on Time of Use varies, the potential savings opportunity will be significant.
 
Pacific Power also offers a variety of ways to budget for energy expenses and provides equal pay billing options, along with energy use tracking offered online and through the company’s app. Pacific Power customers can also tap into information and rebates to help improve their energy efficiency and lower their bills. Customers can call 1-888-221-7070 to discuss options.
 
Getting Your Input
The public review process for a general rate case can take up to 18 months. During that time, the public can provide input on the filing. The commission has the authority to set final rates that may be lower or higher than the company’s request, depending on the outcome of its examination. The public is also invited to take part in public meetings. To learn more, visit: pacificpower.net/rates.

About Pacific Power
Pacific Power provides electric service to more than 770,000 customers in Oregon, Washington and California. It is part of PacifiCorp, one of the lowest-cost electricity producers in the United States, providing 2 million customers with value for their energy dollar through safe, reliable electricity. For more information, visit www.pacificpower.net.


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