Oregon Public Utility Commission

Rule Rule 860-022-0070
Procedures and Standards for Reviewing Gas Utility Rates in the Context of the Purchased Gas Adjustment Mechanism


(1)

The purpose of sections (1) through (7) of this rule is to ensure that earnings of a natural gas utility local distribution company (“gas utility” or “LDC”) with a purchased gas adjustment (“PGA”) mechanism are not excessive prior to passing through prudently incurred base gas cost changes in rates through a mechanism which is fair to all parties and efficient to administer. For purposes of this rule, earnings are excessive only if a gas utility does not share with its customers past revenues related to earnings that exceed an earnings threshold determined by the Commission.

(2)

Prudently incurred base gas cost changes will be included in rates through tracking filings, subject to the Commission’s review of gas cost purchasing practices at the time of those filings.

(3)

A separate, simplified earnings review will be conducted on an annual basis independent of and in advance of the PGA filings. The purpose of such an earnings review is to determine whether the gas utility’s earnings are above an earnings threshold so as to require some sharing of revenue with customers before passing through base gas cost changes. The purpose is not to make a forward-looking, permanent change in rates.

(4)

In an earnings review conducted under this rule, it is reasonable for PGA base gas cost changes to be passed through into rates if, in circumstances when the gas utility’s earnings in the prior year were above an earnings threshold determined in section (5) of this rule, revenue representing a percentage of earnings in that year above that earnings threshold is shared with customers.

(5)

The standards to be applied in an earnings review under this rule for each LDC are as follows:

(a)

Test year: The test year for the earnings review will be the calendar year immediately prior to the year in which the PGA filing is made, unless otherwise specified by the Commission.

(b)

Normalization and adjustments: The test year results will be adjusted with a predetermined list of rate-making adjustments equivalent to those applied in the gas utility’s most recent general rate proceeding.

(c)

Earnings threshold: There will be no revenue sharing required for years when a gas utility’s return on equity from utility operations in Oregon is lower than the earnings threshold determined by the Commission for each LDC. Neither this value nor any of the components implied in establishing it will be precedential in a general rate case involving any Oregon public utility. The Commission will update the value for the earnings threshold annually for each LDC, pursuant to a mechanism established by order of the Commission for each LDC, to reflect changes in conditions in the capital markets. Upon a showing of good cause, the Commission may consider other relevant factors in addition to changes in conditions in the capital markets.

(d)

Sharing percentage: The amount of revenue in a test year representing a specified percentage of the earnings above the earnings threshold will be shared with customers. The Commission by order will determine the sharing percentage for each LDC.

(e)

Deferral and amortization: Any revenue determined for the gas utility for a test year under section (5)(d) of this rule will be deferred as of December 31 of the test year. The balance in the deferred account will accrue interest from that date at the LDC’s rate of return on rate base determined in its last general rate case. Interest will continue to accrue at this rate during the amortization period, which will begin on the date of the next PGA rate change and extend for twelve months. The Commission by order will determine the method for allocating amounts to be amortized among customer classes.

(6)

Each LDC will file test year results of operations by May 1. Any person may request to be placed on a list to receive all such earnings review filings at the time they are submitted to the Commission or may request a copy of individual filings. Any person wishing to participate as a party shall so notify the Commission and other parties via letter. Commission staff will complete its review and distribute summary conclusions by June 10 to all parties. Staff will present the results of the earnings review at the first regular public meeting in July; alternatively, if issues are unresolved among all parties, a settlement conference including all parties will be conducted. By August 1, the parties will file position statements with the Commission on unresolved issues, if needed. The Commission will issue its decision on unresolved issues, if any, by August 15. Unless otherwise directed by the Commission, each LDC will file its annual gas cost tracking filing by August 31, including amortization of credit amounts in the deferred account, if any, resulting from the earnings review.
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Last accessed
Jun. 8, 2021