RMP rate hike ‘unacceptable,’ ‘unsubstantiated’

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We are all feeling the effects of inflation. From our grocery carts to back-to-school supplies to heating and cooling our homes, it all costs more and hurts our pocketbooks. So when Rocky Mountain Power filed their recent rate case arguing to increase their rates, it wasn't a surprise; businesses all over the country are also feeling the effects of inflation and adjusting their cost of goods and services. However, the percentage of increase was a surprise — over 30 percent when you add all their requests together. To put it bluntly, the requested increase is unacceptable and unsubstantiated.

A rate increase of this amount will devastate residential, business and industrial customers alike. Wyoming customers should not be forced to carry the cost of the bad business decisions and poor planning made by Rocky Mountain Power and their parent company, PacifiCorp.

PacifiCorp has been slowly abandoning coal for their West Coast customers’ base load power needs for years. Their decision to pivot hard into carrying a larger mix of wind and solar energy sources cost them substantially when the market volatility of natural gas prices hit in 2020 and their inability to bring on more base load generation continues to force them to pay more money on the open market.

These costly business decisions are being passed through to Wyoming customers, customers, who don’t actually consume a power mix from Rocky Mountain power that uses natural gas. Wyoming Rocky Mountain customers are still served by power derived from mine-to-mouth coal and wind power.   

There’s no question that the policy decisions and customer preferences of the West Coast states are driving PacifiCorp’s decisions, and these preferences are undermining our own industries here in the Cowboy state. Further, other states’ policies are pushing unrealistic renewable goals that negatively affect the reliability of power across the multi-state region.

Wyoming has always been an energy export state. We recognize the importance of the energy commodity for our state in tax income and providing jobs for our citizens. However, the multi-state makeup of PacifiCorp has Wyomingites paying for the power they are not using and absorbing the cost of risky decisions. 

Wyoming is one of six states in the multi-state agreement with PacifiCorp, with about 100,000 customers. Compared to other states with three million PacifiCorp customers, Wyomingites are disproportionally paying for the average energy costs despite working hard to provide cheaper and more reliable coal and natural gas base load power.

Further, because Rocky Mountain Power is a part of the multi-state agreement, Wyoming ratepayers are exposed to all the risks of PacifiCorp, which includes their legal risks. Recently, PacifiCorp was ordered to pay $73 million to plaintiffs in Oregon related to the company's role in contributing to the wildfires that ravaged the area in 2020. It’s more than likely these costs are getting passed down to the ratepayers.

So as Rocky Mountain Power and its parent company PacifiCorp continue to make decisions that negatively affect their Wyoming customers and erode our core fossil fuel industries, we call on the Wyoming Public Service Commission to reject Rocky Mountain Power’s latest rate increase request. Send the company back to the drawing board to come up with a rate that reflects the cost of providing power to Rocky Mountain Power customers versus the whole of the West Coast needs.

Additionally, we will move forward into the 2024 session, looking at the multi-state agreement and how well that agreement serves the needs of one-sixth of Wyoming’s citizens and the state's core industries.

Wyomingites are proud of the work we do to power the nation. We know without Wyoming families and industries doing the work, many across the nation would not have power for their homes. We ask Rocky Mountain Power reconsider their rate increase because the hardworking people of Wyoming deserve their hard work and role in providing reliable power to be recognized rather than slapped in the face with this unsubstantiated rate increase.