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Rate Case Assistance

PUC Offers Help to Water Utilities

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) offers assistance to help water utilities prepare rate cases. A pre-rate case generally involves assisting the utility in filling out the Utility Rate Increase/Decrease Application.  [Link to: “Application for Utility Rate Increase/Decrease”]
 

pitcher and glass with water

 

A Pre-Rate Case May Involve:

  • Expense classification – helping determine in which accounts various expenses should be listed.
  • Cost of capital – helping to accurately present various capital costs including debt (i.e., loans) used to finance the utility and equity provided by the owners.
  • Plant information – instructing on the mechanics of the plant spreadsheet used to reflect investment in the plant.
  • Rate structure – instructing on the potential rate structures (e.g., base vs. commodity rates) and how to design rates that will recover estimated costs.
 

A Pre-Rate Case Does Not Involve:

  • Preparing and submitting the general rate case filing – this is the responsibility of the utility.
  • Determining appropriate cost levels – The PUC may inform the utility of options for various cost levels. For example, for a cost that fluctuates significantly from year to year, the PUC may suggest use of an average to smooth that cost. However, determining the appropriate level of any and all costs to include in the filing is the utility’s decision.
  • Advocating for Commission approval of costs – as the utility is responsible for deciding which costs will be reflected in the filing it also bears the full responsibility for defending those costs once the rate case is filed. The PUC will do a thorough review of the utility’s costs once the case is filed and may suggest adjustments to any costs proposed.
  • Advocating for Commission approval of a rate structure – The PUC may inform you of options for rate structures, but determining the appropriate rate structure to include in filing is the utility’s decision. The utility also bears the full responsibility for defending that rate structure once the rate case is filed. 
 

PUC’s Role

 
It is important to note that the PUC’s function during a pre-case differs from our role during the actual rate case investigation. During a pre-case, the PUC only provides assistance with the mechanics of preparing the rate case filing. Because of this, we will not ask the utility to demonstrate the accuracy or appropriateness of its claims during the pre-case process. Once the rate case application has been filed and the actual rate case is initiated, the utility will be asked to demonstrate the accuracy and appropriateness of the figures in its rate case filing.
 
If you’re interested in taking advantage of this service, please email Stephanie Yamada or call 503-378-5201. 
 

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