Oregon deregulation plans due Nov. 1
Oregon electric companies must file deregulation plans by Nov. 1 plans with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, identifying what plants will remain under regulated rates to serve residential and small business consumers. Under Oregon law industrial and large nonresidential commercial customers will have direct access to power markets beginning Oct. 1, 2001. Residential and small commercial consumers will get a regulated rate.
Oregon electric companies must file deregulation plans by Nov. 1 plans with the Oregon Public Utility Commission, identifying what plants will remain under regulated rates to serve residential and small business consumers.
The commission said the new rules will form the nucleus under which the electric industry restructuring law passed by the 1999 Oregon legislature will be put into practice.
Under Oregon law industrial and large nonresidential commercial customers will have direct access to power markets beginning Oct. 1, 2001. Residential and small commercial consumers will get a regulated rate.
"This is the first big step in implementing electric restructuring in Oregon in a unique way that is very different from what California and other states have done." said commission Chairman Ron Eachus. "We are assuring that specific resources will be retained by the utilities that serve customers who won't have access to a competitive retail market."
The plans must identify and analyze the impact of putting them into practice, including the effect on supply and demand and on rates. Utilities must develop the plan in a public process that allows participation for all affected parties.
The rules also include the following elements:
� Electric companies must provide a cost-of-service option to residential and small nonresidential customers.
� Nonresidential consumers will be offered one or more standard offer rate options. A standard offer rate option shall be approved by the commission and is based on supply purchases made on a competitive basis from the wholesale market.
� Nonresidential consumers will also receive an emergency default supply when an electric service supplier (EES) is no longer supplying service. Each electric company must file tariffs with the commission that include an emergency service option.
� Electric companies and electric service suppliers must meet labeling requirements to provide price, power source, and environmental impact information to customers. This information will allow consumers to make informed decisions about their choice of electricity supplier.
� Electric companies must provide a portfolio of product and pricing options to residential customers. The residential portfolio must have at least one product that reflects renewable energy resources and at least one market-based rate.
� Consumers will have the option of receiving a consolidated bill from the electric company, unless the consumer chooses to receive separate bills from every individual supplier or a consolidated bill from an ESS. The rules require electric companies to provide meter readings to a consumer's ESS for the purpose of billing.
The new rules were adopted after lengthy negotiations involving consumer and environmental advocates, Oregon PUC staff, commercial and industrial trade associations, power marketers, and Oregon's two investor-owned utilities�PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric.
The commission is still grappling with the public purpose provision of the law which requires utilities to collect an extra 3% of revenues from customers for conservation and renewable energy projects. It postponed action on the pending further clarification of the statute by staff.