October 8, 2001
Regulators unplug PSE's rate hike proposal
by Jeanette Knutson
On Aug. 21 Puget Sound Energy (PSE) went before state energy regulators with an emergency proposal that would have increased its average customer's monthly residential bill by 18 percent. The company further sought to tie wholesale energy cost fluctuations to its customers' bills.
The requests were couched in PSE's "urgent need" to recoup some $84 million in projected losses incurred by buying and selling power in a spot market made volatile by California's energy deregulation and the imposition of wholesale-energy price caps set by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Last week the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission denied PSE's proposal on the grounds that the company failed to demonstrate a satisfactory financial case for it. The commission's order stated that the PSE's filing did not show it is in dire need of rate or accounting relief.
The commission received 60 comments from the general public in opposition to the proposal. In addition, six Puget Sound municipalities, King County and the trade association of the state's largest industrial employers voiced opposition to the rate increase proposal.
At the time this paper went to press PSE had not decided if it would file for reconsideration of the ruling or appeal the ruling to any superior court within its 10-county service area.