SALT LAKE CITY – Rocky Mountain Power is asking Utah regulators for a $14.6 million decrease in customer electricity bills. For an average customer using 698 kilowatt hours each month, the proposal would reduce their annual electricity bill by $6.96. Last year the company’s filings resulted in a $16.9 million decrease in customer electricity bills.
The company’s Energy Balancing Account (EBA), which primarily consists of the difference between Rocky Mountain Power’s actual and projected fuel costs and electricity purchases, was $6.5 million or 0.3 percent less than last year. The company also found customers should receive a reduction of about $8.1 million or 0.4 percent difference between actual and projected Renewable Energy Credit (REC) revenues.
“Our goal is to provide reliable electricity at the lowest prices possible,” said Joelle Steward, Director, Rates and Regulatory Affairs Manager for Rocky Mountain Power. “This adjustment is one of the ways we make sure our customers are not overcharged.”
The Commission approves customer prices based on the balance in the EBA caused by the difference between actual and expected costs of fuel and electricity purchases. This year also included costs for closing the Deer Creek Mine. Rates are subsequently adjusted after it is determined whether the actual costs go up or down.
In a similar fashion, rates are adjusted for the sales of RECs in the REC Balancing Account. The RECs represent the environmental attributes of renewable energy produced by the company. RECs are sold on the open market and revenues are credited to customers to lower their bills.
In the applications, Rocky Mountain Power is asking the Utah Public Service Commission to make the rate changes for the REC sales beginning June 1, 2017 and the changes for the energy costs on May 1, 2017. The company also anticipates seeking another rate decrease for customers later in the year when the balance from the last EBA has been fully recovered.
Last year the Utah Legislature passed the Sustainability Transportation and Energy Plan (STEP) Act on March 10, 2016 which allows the utility to recover 100 percent of the fuel and purchase power costs needed to provide electricity to customers, beginning June 1, 2016. As a result of this law, customers are receiving an additional $1 million in lower costs through this filing.
Customers would have saved another $700,000 if the STEP law had been in effect for the entire year. Subject to approval of the Public Service Commission, STEP also provides funding for a renewable energy tariff, electric vehicle charging stations, large-scale battery storage, solar development and other air quality initiatives with a minimal impact to customers.