Hageman Says Rocky Mountain Power Will Only Get About Half The Hike It Wants

Harriet Hageman praised the Wyoming Public Service Commission on Wednesday for cutting Rocky Mountain Power’s proposed rate hike in half, but the commission says no figures are yet available.

Renée Jean

November 30, 20235 min read

Hageman and Rocky Mountain Power 11 29 23
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

While the Wyoming Public Service Commission said it would not likely have a hard and fast number on how much it has cut a Rocky Mountain Power requested rate increase of nearly 30%, U.S. Rep. Harriett Hageman, R-Wyoming, suggests it’ll only be about half that in a Wednesday afternoon statement.

Rocky Mountain Power had asked for a 21.9% overall increase with its current rate case, as well as a temporary 7.6% hike to cover higher-than-expected energy costs, for an overall ask of about 30%.

Public Service Commissioners met Wednesday to discuss their order on the proposed hike with all of the parties in the case and to tie off any loose ends.

Not Sure Yet

During the meeting, Public Service Commissioners and representatives of Rocky Mountain Power said they didn’t know how the decisions the commission made Tuesday will impact electricity rates by the end of business Wednesday.

“I don’t know where (Rep. Hageman’s Office) is getting that number from,” Wyoming Public Service Commission Spokesman John Burbridge told Cowboy State Daily. “Like you heard in the meeting today, Rocky Mountain Power said they weren’t ready to release that. They don’t know it, we don’t know it, we can’t say what it will be. I don’t know where Hageman is getting that number.”

Asked by Cowboy State Daily for clarification on how it determined the rate hike would be about half of what was asked, Hageman’s office responded that it understands the commission hasn’t come up with a final number, but that the congresswoman was reacting to a WyoFile story that reported an estimate of what the rate hike would come out to. Anticipating the final determination wouldn’t be much different, Hageman’s office wanted to get the information to Wyoming residents.

Rocky Mountain Power spokesman Jona Whitesides told Cowboy State Daily that the complany doesn’t yet know whether an estimate by WyoFile of an $80 million rate increase, versus the $137 million the company had asked for — or Hageman’s estimate of a 50% rate cut — are accurate or close to accurate. 

“The company will take the information from the commission’s deliberations, run that through certain computer models in order to produce a compliance filing,” he said. “After that is filed, the commission will issue a written order, after which we will know impacts to the various customer classes.”

Rocky Mountain Pushes Back On Renewables

Rocky Mountain Power has said that renewables are not what is behind their rate increase, and that renewables helped shave $85.4 million from power costs.

“Without those savings, this case would have been $238 million instead of $137 million,” Rocky Mountain Power CEO Gary Hoogeveen testified during the seven-day rate case hearing.

What’s causing 95% of the increased power cost were energy spikes for coal and natural gas prices amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sucked up coal supply after Europe turned its coal plants back on, as well as a fire in Utah which has taken a major coal producer offline.

“It’s important to note that the company’s increasingly diversified generation portfolio is driven by economics, not any specific state’s policies” Hoogeveen said. “The new renewable resources included this case were procured through competitive solicitation processes, not limited to renewable generation. These renewable resources were economically the best resources to procure.”

Praise For PSC

In the release, Hageman also praised the Wyoming Service Commission for its decision and work throughout the RMP rate case.

“RMP as a state-sanctioned monopoly is tasked with providing us with reliable and affordable electricity,” Hageman said in the statement. “Instead, they have pushed ahead with a bogus ‘green’ agenda, replacing safe, clean, reliable fossil fuels with unreliable ‘renewables.’”

Hageman also blasted Rocky Mountain Power for including renewables in its portfolio.

“I am happy to see at least some relief for the citizens of Wyoming who are being forced to pay for it,” Hageman said. “And I hope that this is a lesson for other power companies falling for the unreliable energy scam. I have made it a cornerstone of my congressional tenure to fight back against policies that further institutionalize energy poverty.”

That has included pushing back against not just the Biden administration, Hageman said, but sometimes the state of Wyoming and its political and business leaders.

“I have forcefully and vocally opposed RMP’s efforts to raise electricity rates by 30%,” she said. “I will continue to support American energy independence and our fossil fuel industries. RMP must return to its roots of providing affordable electricity.

“We are blessed with more than ample resources right here in Wyoming to power this country long into the future— if only we implement common sense energy policies that don’t result in obscenely high rate hikes for consumers who cannot afford them.”

In ending its deliberation on the rate hike Tuesday, the commission continues to work to determine just what its final decisions will mean for Wyoming power customers.

Renée Jean can be reached at renee@cowboystatedaily.com.

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Renée Jean

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