Two major Oregon electric utilities have been granted hefty rate increases that take effect in January.
Portland General Electric and Pacific Power both received approval for 14.8% rate increases, the Oregon Public Utility Commission said in a news release. The percentage represents an average for all types of customers combined. The increases stem from higher energy costs for utilities and, in Pacific Power’s case, costs to reduce future wildfire risks.
The impact of the increases will vary based on energy usage, but the Utilities Commission has issued these general guidelines:
PGE: A typical residential customer consuming 780 kilowatt hours per month can expect monthly bills to increase from $114.54 to $122.60, an increase of about 7%.
Pacific Power: A typical residential customer consuming 900 kilowatt hours per month can expect monthly bills to increase from $91.89 to $111.34, an increase of about 21.2%. However, across all household accounts, the average increase is 15.1%.
“We recognize that rising tariffs are a challenge for many customers at a time when Oregonians are already grappling with high inflation,” said Megan Decker, chair of the state utilities commission, which regulates utilities and tariffs in Oregon Oregon regulated. “Unfortunately, rising fuel costs and supply chain delays caused by global events, combined with increased volatility in regional electricity markets, are driving up prices for power generation and purchases. While utilities cannot avoid all of the impact of these higher prices in the short term, residential customers may have options to mitigate the impact on the bottom line.”
According to federal statistics, the average annual electricity consumption by a US residential customer in 2021 was 886 kilowatt hours per month. The average monthly electric bill in Oregon was about $100 per month, according to federal data for 2021.
In seeking the increase, Pacific Power cited “significant increases” in its estimated costs for both power generation and power purchases, as well as global supply chain issues. PGE also cited increased production costs.
The national inflation rate was around 7% at the end of November, but energy costs were at 13%.
Both companies said they have help for customers who are having trouble paying their energy bills. Portland General Electric and Pacific Power offer some rebate programs for lower-income residents based on gross income and household size.
Pacific Power: https://www.pacificpower.net/my-account/payments/bill-payment-assistance/oregon-low-income-discount-program.html
These monthly rebates, offered by the two companies, are also intended to help customers find the following community organizations that the utilities work with: Oregon Energy Fund, Oregon Energy Assistance Program, COVID Energy Assistance Program, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance program.