Pacific Power customers in Central Oregon will see an increase in their monthly residential electricity bills of $1.58, on average, starting Sunday, thanks to the timely addition of a power plant in Utah.
The Oregon Public Utility Commission originally approved the increase in December, but said it could not go into effect until PacifiCorp, Pacific Power’s parent company, brought its Lake Side 2 power plant online. A utility may not collect its costs to build a power plant from ratepayers until the plant actually provides electricity to consumers, according to state law.
However, when the PUC met Tuesday, Lake Side 2 was not yet in service, so commissioners set a noon Friday deadline to bring the plant online. If PacifiCorp missed the deadline, it would have had to refile its rate request.
CH2MHill built the natural gas-fired plant at a site 40 miles south of Salt Lake City adjacent to the existing 558-megawatt Lake Side power plant.
The PUC also approved a separate, 1.5 percent increase in December that took effect Jan. 1. Together, the two rate hikes — the fifth and sixth increases approved for Pacific Power since 2010 — add about $3 to the bill for homeowners using 900 kilowatt-hours a month. Commercial and industrial customers will also pay more, according to separate rate schedules.
The commission allowed Pacific Power to recover $21.9 million of the Lake Side 2 construction costs from Oregon ratepayers, about $1.1 million less than the company originally sought. Pacific Power agreed last year to seek no further increases before January 2016. The total cost to build the plant was unavailable Friday.
Lake Side 2 produces approximately 637 megawatts, enough to power approximately 326,000 homes, according to the PacifiCorp website.
PacifiCorp plans to build no more power plants for the next 10 years, company spokesman Bob Gravely wrote in an email Friday.
Lake Side 2 produces about half the emissions of a coal-fired plant, he wrote.
The rate increase affects about 587,000 customers in Oregon, Gravely wrote.
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