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Customer comments sought on Pacific Power's proposed rate hikes

The Attorney General's Public Counsel Section, which represents the public in utility rate cases, wants Pacific Power customers to tell state decision-makers what they think about the company's proposal to raise rates.

Portland-based Pacific Power wants to raise rates for its more than 125,000 customers in central and southeast Washington. Monthly bills now arriving in the mail will include a notice with details of the proposed rate increase, as well as a detachable, pre-addressed comment form for customers to share their opinions with state regulators. Customers also have the chance to speak out during a public hearing this fall in Yakima.

In February 2008, Pacific Power filed a request with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to take in an additional $37.4 million in revenues from Washington electric customers. The commission is expected to make the final decision on the rate increase in January 2009. If approved, residential customers would see a 15 percent increase to their monthly electric bills. A typical customer now paying $85.11 would see bills climb to $98.14.

The monthly basic charge, which all customers pay regardless of usage, would increase by a third from $5.25 to $7. Pacific Power is also asking to raise fees and charges for various services, such as the field visit and reconnection charge.

"Escalating energy costs place a real burden on family and small business budgets," Public Counsel Section Chief Simon Fitch said. "We are concerned that Pacific Power's requested revenue increase equates to a dramatic hike in customer rates."

Pacific Power customers have the opportunity to comment to the Utilities and Transportation Commision in person at a public hearing in Yakima on Thursday, Sept. 25, at 5 p.m. in Yakima County Courthouse Commissioners Hearing Room No. B-33 in Yakima.

Customers can also submit comments via e-mail at comments@wutc.wa.gov, online at www.wutc.wa.gov/comment or call toll-free 1-800-562-6150. Details about the company's proposed rate changes are online at www.wutc.wa.gov. Enter docket no. U-072375.

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