UTAH DROUGHT

Power rates could increase in May, says Rocky Mountain Power

Mar 17, 2022, 3:23 PM | Updated: 4:07 pm
Power rates could increase come May, Rocky Mountain Power says....
Power rates could go up by 1.6%. (Steve Griffin/Deseret News)
(Steve Griffin/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Rocky Mountain Power is asking Utah’s Public Service Commission to approve increased rates for customers. The new power rates will start May 1 on an interim basis and Rocky Mountain Power wants them to last until June 2023.

The power company adjusts its prices annually depending on how much power costs as it fluctuates. Spokesperson David Eskelsen said power is more expensive than last year.

According to Eskelsen, Rocky Mountain’s fluctuating prices are, generally, out of the company’s control. Droughts and heatwaves, largely, drive power prices.

This has caused hydroelectric power to become less available and the overall cost of wholesale purchases to be higher.

“Hydroelectric power is dependent on the availability of water,” Eskelsen said. “[It] is, historically, a very low-cost resource. When that is lower in output, other power resources have to be drawn upon to fill in that gap.”

Rocky Mountain Power has a collection of small hydroelectric facilities along the Wasatch Front, on Bear River, and a sister facility in the Pacific Northwest. Drought also affects this facility.

Rocky Mountain Power waits for the state

Rocky Mountain Power must get approval from the state of Utah before adjusting its prices. 

“Public utilities, like Rocky Mountain Power are regulated by the state in which we operate. In Utah, that’s the Public Service Commission of Utah,” Eskelsen said. “They review our cost of providing service and make sure that our prices are fair and reasonable.”

Rocky Mountain Power also buys and sells power to and from other utilities every day. Eskelsen said that sales are credited to the benefit of customers.

“Any money that we make by selling power to other utilities is credited against the wholesale power that we buy,” he said. “Sales are credited to customers and purchases are, of course, a cost to customers.”

According to Eskelsen, costs fluctuate up and down and have decreased in the past. Costs vary year to year.

The average residential customer can expect to see their bill increase by 1.6%, about $1.40 Eskelsen said. The new rates are subject to change, as they still need approval from the state Public Service Commission.

Martha Harris contributed to this article.

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