“I can’t afford this.”
That was the sentiment on display in Casper the evening of Aug. 24 at the Public Service Commission’s hearing on Rocky Mountain Power’s (RMP) proposed electric rate increases.
The hearing went two hours beyond its scheduled time and saw estimates of 200 people coming to express their frustration, and in many instances, desperation. It was reiterated the next day at the Joint Corporations Committee hearing in Douglas. It’s what I hear from people in my district and, frankly, across Wyoming.
I traveled to Casper and Douglas to oppose RMP’s proposals because my phone hasn’t stopped ringing since spring when these rate increases were announced.
Wyoming families are at a breaking point. Rate increases are supposed to be “just and reasonable.” I believe RMP’s proposed increases are neither just nor reasonable.
Rocky Mountain Power is seeking two rate increases. The Energy Cost Adjustment Mechanism (ECAM) is seeking to raise rates an average of 7.4%, or $50.3 million for energy cost overruns. The General Rate increase looks to raise rates an average of 21.6%, or $140 Million. Combined, the company is asking the Wyoming Public Service Commission to authorize an increase of $190 million.
RMP asserts that “net power costs” are a major driver in the need to raise rates. The company claims this is due to high coal and natural gas prices.
Shockingly, RMP is also asking the PSC for the ability to shift 100% of fuel cost overruns onto the customer instead of sharing in that expense. Currently, fuel cost overruns are split, with customers paying 80% and RMP paying 20%. Not that long ago, the ratio was 70/30.
I not only suggested to the Public Service Commission to reject RMP’s proposal, but to return to the 70/30 ratio. I’ve previously called these rate increases “disappointing,” but it’s more than disappointing. It’s blatantly offensive.
According to a Wall Street Journal article from Aug. 9, electricity bills are projected to decline because of decreasing coal and natural gas prices. RMP asserts just the opposite in its rate cases.
Something doesn’t compute.
We’ve repeatedly heard renewable energy will result in lower electric bills. It’s becoming obvious the fuel source may be zero cost, but there is an enormous expense to build out the infrastructure to support renewable energy. The infrastructure building frenzy may be good for shareholders as RMP looks to capitalize on federal subsidies and green energy policy, but it’s going to cripple Wyoming families and businesses.
Management decisions to accelerate the energy transition and meet aggressive targets from other states have led RMP to buy more power on the open market. This is necessary because the transition to green energy, otherwise known as intermittent power, isn’t as reliable as firm power from coal or natural gas generation.
Management and shareholder decisions have caused this predicament, not Wyoming customers, and that’s who should be on the hook to pay the price.
Please join me in saying enough is enough. RMP’s aggressive transition plans aren’t in the public’s interest. Wyoming can’t afford this increase, be it families or industry.
Contact the Wyoming Public Service Commission to make your voice heard at 307-777-7427 or email@example.com.
State Rep. Jon Conrad, R-Mountain View, represents House District 19 in the Wyoming Legislature.