On Feb. 15, PGE filed a General Rate Case with the Oregon Public Utility Commission for prices expected to be effective in 2024. This filing is the first step in a transparent public process allowing the OPUC to work with PGE in determining new customer prices. Customer prices are approved by the OPUC after an extensive evaluation, including a public hearing, which considers a range of factors including current prices, inflation and other cost increases, and the necessary investments needed to provide reliable and resilient power to customers in the region.
PGE is proposing an average price increase of 14%, this includes an average 4.5% increase for fuel and power costs and a 9.5% increase covering capital investments and operations and maintenance such as updating aging infrastructure, more resilient transmission lines and ongoing safety management by our crews.
This process to determine a final price with the OPUC can take up to a year; additional information on what to expect over the coming months can be found on the OPUC website .
What’s driving this increase:
Power costs: Power costs have exponentially risen driven by high fuel costs, inflation, extreme weather events and market volatility.
Capital investments around upgrading the electric grid: We are investing in infrastructure and technology upgrades and replacing aging assets to create a grid that is more resilient in the face of extreme weather.
Investments focused on grid security and reliability. The investments we make result in better service for our customers, including fewer power interruptions and increased reliability for non-emitting resources.
PGE continues to be focused on managing costs for customers, some ways we are doing this include:
Implementing tools and products that help customers manage their own energy use
We are empowering customers to take control of their energy journey through usage dashboards, rebates and incentives for energy efficiency as well as special programs to save money such as Smart Thermostat, Time of Day pricing and Peak Time Rebates.
Identifying federal funds, incentives and customer rebates
As a company, we are working hard to bring federal resources to our state to cover needed investments, take advantage of new grants and credits from the IRA/IIJA and connect customers with new federal tax credits, rebates and incentives.
Curtailing power costs where possible
Wholesale power costs have gone up exponentially compared to PGE’s power costs because of steps we have taken to diversifying our portfolio and mitigate extreme risk from the market.
Managing our own costs/efficiencies
We have focused on managing spending and keeping operating cost low to avoid passing any unnecessary costs onto customers. For example, our adjusted budget for operations and maintenance remained the same from 2021 to 2022 despite the high cost of inflation and is even decreasing in 2023 as we continue to be financially prudent. We have managed more infrastructure, more customers, and more energy demand with the same number of employees year-over-year, and our hard-working crews are completing work faster while focusing on keeping our community and employees safe.
What is a rate case and why are you doing one now?
As a regulated business, we work closely with the Oregon Public Utility Commission to ensure fair pricing.
We are filing a general rate case with the OPUC to ask regulators to review our costs of providing service.
These investments and upfront costs include the rate of inflation since our last rate case in 2022, upgrades and repowering of the Faraday Powerhouse, modernizing our grid to support increased renewable energy growth and withstand extreme weather, as well as ongoing operating costs such as vegetation management.
No price change would take effect until 2024.
What’s in it for me?
Safe, reliable power. These upgrades are to provide:
Fewer power interruptions and better reliability.
Refurbished and upgraded facilities that result in lower long-term power costs given the high price of fossil fuel.
Continued commitment to safety through physical and cybersecurity programs and our field work such as vegetation management and tree trimming.
How does PGE support customers who have difficulty paying their bills?
PGE has bill assistance resources for customers in need, including our Income Qualified Bill Discount program, Preferred Due Date and payment plans, and help with energy efficiency, plus Energy Assistance funds and a Medical Certificate program for our medically fragile customers. For more information on how we can assist you, please contact customer service at 800-542-8818. Representatives are available from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. Our customer service advisors can assist you in 200+ languages.
When did customer prices last go up?
In January customer prices were adjusted based on both forecasted fuel costs for the year ahead, as well as other costs related to wildfire and winter storm emergencies. This price change did not take into effect our other investments or operating costs.
How much will my prices change?
There is no change to your bill today. No price changes would take effect from this filing until 2024.
What specifically have you done to make the system better and safer?
We have replaced aging infrastructure, made upgrades to our facilities, enhanced our poles and wires, trimmed vegetation and over the past year we have made additional investments in technology and upgrades to protect against physical and cybersecurity threats.
Capital investments and associated costs include upgrades and repowering of the 115-year-old Faraday powerhouse and modernizing our grid to support increased renewable energy growth and withstand extreme weather.
All of the improvements lead to a safer, cleaner, more reliable system.
Are you allowed to keep raising prices? Who decides what is fair?
As a regulated business, the Oregon Public Utility Commission must approve any price changes resulting from a General Rate Case.
You can learn more about the process and how to get involved at the OPUC website.
Why are residential and small business customers getting a different increase than others?
We work with the OPUC to determine all of our pricing, and that includes distributing costs so they are fairly allocated across all customers and the type of investments that took place.
We end up with different prices for different kinds of customers because each of you use different amounts of energy, and the costs to serve you vary.
How does that compare to other utilities in the region and country?
Utility rate case filings are case-specific and may include different components of electricity rates at different times. However, PGE’s proposal of 9.5% for base rates and 4.5% for power costs results in a combined increase that is below the average of the proposed increases made in rate cases by vertically integrated electric utilities across the United States since May 2022. According to S&P Global, of the 14 pending rate cases filed within the past nine months, the average increase sought was 16.8%.
Are there other components of the General Rate Case filing?
Yes. PGE is making several proposals to modify the regulatory framework to better align market dynamics with decarbonization goals and ensure adequate power availability at all times, known as resource adequacy. Our updates seek to modernize outdated policies to better balance risks and align incentives to encourage both decarbonization and sufficient power supplies. We will take a collaborative approach with the OPUC and other stakeholders on how best to do this during a period of enormous transformation and significant capital investment needs in the electricity sector.