Electric Rate Hike Not Immediate in Wake of Pandemic

Electric Rate Hike Not Immediate in Wake of Pandemic

Rocky Mountain Power officials say they don't anticipate an immediate rate hike to customers in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

ROCK SPRINGS — Residents concerned about an increase in their electric bill due to the COVID-19 outbreak can rest a little easier.

According to a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power, the company has not petitioned the Public Service Commission for a rate increase to absorb losses from the pandemic.

According to RMP spokesman David Esklesen, the company asked utility regulators in mid-April for permission to track COVID-19 costs in a separate account until more certainty of these costs became known. This “deferred accounting” is commonly used for tracking certain costs for consideration by utility commissions in a later general rate review.

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“This request was made in each of the states the company serves.,” Eskelsen said. “The commission has approved tracking the costs but has not approved, nor has the company yet requested, recovery of any specific COVID-19 related costs. This will be addressed in a proceeding at a later time once the costs are known.”

Eskelsen said the company did ask the PCS for a rate review on March 2 before the scope of the pandemic became known to state and local officials.

“That request would result in a slight price decrease for industrial customers in Wyoming,” he added. “Residential customers, who typically have more variable energy usage, would see a slight increase of $3.69 per month on typical energy consumption of 660 kilowatt-hours per month.”

Eskelsen emphasized that COVID-19-related costs were not part of the March 2 request.

No Disconnects

Rocky Mountain Power voluntarily suspended service disconnections in cases where customers got behind in paying their bill. The company also increased its customer outreach on resources that can help customers stay current on their bills, “particularly during the uncertainties presented by this emergency,” Eskelsen said.

A certain amount of uncollectable debt is a normal part of the company’s costs of doing business, and RMP expects these costs to rise given the disruptions to the economy and employment that have affected its customers of all sizes and types.

“We can’t know at this time exactly what the magnitude of those additional costs might be, which is one reason for the deferred accounting request,” Eskelsen said. “Still, given that future rate reviews consider all the costs of providing service to customers, we would not expect that pandemic-related costs in these deferred accounts would, by themselves, trigger a request for a price increase.”

Esklesen said these costs would be one part of a larger consideration of “all the prudent costs” of providing safe, reliable electric service. 

For more information, visit www.rockymountainpower.net.


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