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URGES PUC TO SAY “NO WAY” TO IDAHO POWER’S $83 MILLION RATE HIKE
Last Public Hearing on Rate Hike Tonight – If Approved Will Mean $90 Million in Hikes for Idahoans as Many Struggle to Pay for the Basics
BOISE, Idaho – Idaho Power reported record earnings last quarter, raking in roughly $40 million more than the prior quarter. But that hasn’t stopped the state’s largest utility company from seeking to hit consumers with even higher energy bills – to the tune of $83 million in rate hikes plus $6 million more in customer service charge increases. AARP Idaho says enough is enough and is urging the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to deny the rate hike request.
Tonight will be the last chance for the public to make their voices heard before PUC as the commission wraps up public hearings on the rate hike request. The final public hearing will be held in Boise at 7pm in the PUC building, 472 W. Washington St. in Boise, in the commission hearing room. AARP is encouraging Idaho Power customers to make their voices heard in opposition to the rate hike.
“These rate hikes are a bad idea in a good economy, in today’s economy they are a horrible idea that will wreak havoc on some households already struggling to get by. Idaho Power sure isn’t struggling, so why should consumers be forced to?” said Lynn Young, a member of AARP Idaho’s Executive Council. “Older Idahoans already have to strike a delicate balance between affording their utility bills and paying for the basics like health care, rising prescription drug, grocery and gas costs – AARP stands in strong opposition to this rate hike.”
The Idaho Power rate hike would send most residential consumers’ bills skyrocketing by nearly 9%, in addition to a $1 a month increase in customer’s service change (bringing in an additional roughly $500,000 a month to the company – or $6 million a year). A non-binding settlement agreement between the company and the interveners (none representing residential consumers) in the rate hike case, currently before the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (PUC), still calls for $34 million in rate hikes, hitting the typical residential consumer with a 4.19% higher monthly energy bill.
“This rate hike request and the non-binding, closed door deal cut by those who had the money to be at the table, further lays out a clear need for Idaho to create a utility consumer advocate office to make sure people have their voice and views heard,” added Young. “At a time when so many of the state’s older residents are having trouble paying their current utility bills, to hit them with a hike in their utility bills is unthinkable.”
Idaho is the only state in the West lacking a utility consumer advocate office to represent residential consumers and small businesses such as farms in rate cases and other regulatory issues before the PUC and the courts. AARP stands in strong support of the creation of an advocate office and is currently urging its inclusion in Idaho’s draft Energy Plan which is being updated.
According to an AARP survey released earlier this year, over 40% of Idahoans 50 and older reported already having difficulty affording their utility bills. In many cases, older consumers are already forced to make hard choices between turning up the thermostat and filling a prescription – higher utility bills could see more of the state’s elderly struggling to afford the basics.
“All of Idaho’s major utility companies are back at the trough this year seeking to hike customer’s utility bills at a time when most can least afford it,” added Young. “The most important voice in the debate over more utility rate hikes in Idaho should be the public’s but too often they are left out of the equation or underrepresented; we’re working to help them raise that voice.”