Homer Alaska - Business

Story last updated at 6:23 PM on Wednesday, January 12, 2011

RCA asks HEA for more information



By MOLLY DISCHNER
Morris News Service - Alaska

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska has asked Homer Electric Association to provide more information about its proposed rate changes before the commission will make a decision.

HEA representative Joe Gallagher said the request for a brief about the proposed changes was a standard move on RCA's part and didn't surprise the utility.

"This is just, it really is, pro-forma for the RCA to do this," Gallagher said.

HEA's brief is due Jan. 18, as are petitions to intervene by interested parties. The RCA will have a conference about the matter at 9 a.m. Feb. 4.

The major changes proposed would decrease the energy base rate, create a minimum monthly energy charge and increase the customer charge from $11 to $15.

According to Gallagher, the proposal is an effort to more fairly recover the cost of providing electric services. Those fixed costs include billing, metering, customer service, poles, wires, substations, generation, transmission lines and insurance. The customer charge is limited to the costs associated with metering, accounting and billing costs, he said.

More information about the minimum monthly energy charge will be provided in the brief by Jan. 18, Gallagher said.

According to the RCA's explanation for the request for more information, HEA originally asked for the changes to go into affect 45 days after its Nov. 2 filing. Gallagher said the utility didn't anticipate that it would happen that quickly, and doesn't expect to see the changes approved until 2012. Alaska law requires that the RCA make a decision by Jan. 26, 2012, which is 450 days from when the initial proposal was filed.

The Attorney General notified RCA on Jan. 7 that it would be a participant in the process. The AG's designee, Sam Cason, said that in general, that's also pretty standard.

For most cases "we do an analysis of whether or not our participation will add to the record," he said.

Typically, the office is able to provide legal advice on whether the information provided is adequate for a rate change, Cason said. HEA charges a cost-based rate. The Attorney General's office is knowledgeable about rate-making rules and regulations, he said.

Molly Dischner is a reporter for the Peninsula Clarion.

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