Utility Regulation Generally

ORS 757.259
Amounts includable in rate schedule

  • deferral
  • limit in effect on rates by amortization
  • rules


In addition to powers otherwise vested in the Public Utility Commission, and subject to the limitations contained in this section, under amortization schedules set by the commission, a rate or rate schedule:


May reflect:


Amounts lawfully imposed retroactively by order of another governmental agency; or


Amounts deferred under subsection (2) of this section.


Shall reflect amounts deferred under subsection (3) of this section if the public utility so requests.


Upon application of a utility or ratepayer or upon the commission’s own motion and after public notice, opportunity for comment and a hearing if any party requests a hearing, the commission by order may authorize deferral of the following amounts for later incorporation in rates:


Amounts incurred by a utility resulting from changes in the wholesale price of natural gas or electricity approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission;


Balances resulting from the administration of Section 5(c) of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act of 1980;


Direct or indirect costs arising from any purchase made by a public utility from the Bonneville Power Administration pursuant to ORS 757.663 (Commission authority to require electric company to enter into contracts with Bonneville Power Administration), provided that such costs shall be recovered only from residential and small-farm retail electricity consumers;


Amounts accruing under a plan for the protection of short-term earnings under ORS 757.262 (Rates to encourage acquisition of cost-effective conservation resources) (2); or


Identifiable utility expenses or revenues, the recovery or refund of which the commission finds should be deferred in order to minimize the frequency of rate changes or the fluctuation of rate levels or to match appropriately the costs borne by and benefits received by ratepayers.


Upon request of the public utility, the commission by order shall allow deferral of amounts provided as financial assistance under an agreement entered into under ORS 757.072 (Agreements for financial assistance to organizations representing customer interests) for later incorporation in rates.


The commission may authorize deferrals under subsection (2) of this section beginning with the date of application, together with interest established by the commission. A deferral may be authorized for a period not to exceed 12 months beginning on or after the date of application. However, amounts deferred under subsection (2)(c) and (d) or (3) of this section are not subject to subsection (5), (6), (7), (8) or (10) of this section, but are subject to such limitations and requirements that the commission may prescribe and that are consistent with the provisions of this section.


Unless subject to an automatic adjustment clause under ORS 757.210 (Hearing to establish new schedules) (1), amounts described in this section shall be allowed in rates only to the extent authorized by the commission in a proceeding under ORS 757.210 (Hearing to establish new schedules) to change rates and upon review of the utility’s earnings at the time of application to amortize the deferral. The commission may require that amortization of deferred amounts be subject to refund. The commission’s final determination on the amount of deferrals allowable in the rates of the utility is subject to a finding by the commission that the amount was prudently incurred by the utility.


Except as provided in subsections (7), (8) and (10) of this section, the overall average rate impact of the amortizations authorized under this section in any one year may not exceed three percent of the utility’s gross revenues for the preceding calendar year.


The commission may allow an overall average rate impact greater than that specified in subsection (6) of this section for natural gas commodity and pipeline transportation costs incurred by a natural gas utility if the commission finds that allowing a higher amortization rate is reasonable under the circumstances.


The commission may authorize amortizations for an electric utility under this section with an overall average rate impact not to exceed six percent of the electric utility’s gross revenues for the preceding calendar year. If the commission allows an overall average rate impact greater than that specified in subsection (6) of this section, the commission shall estimate the electric utility’s cost of capital for the deferral period and may also consider estimated changes in the electric utility’s costs and revenues during the deferral period for the purpose of reviewing the earnings of the electric utility under the provisions of subsection (5) of this section.


The commission may impose requirements similar to those described in subsection (8) of this section for the amortization of other deferrals under this section, but may not impose such requirements for deferrals under subsection (2)(c) or (d) or (3) of this section.


The commission may authorize amortization of a deferred amount for an electric utility under this section with an overall average rate impact greater than that allowed by subsections (6) and (8) of this section if:


The deferral was directly related to extraordinary power supply expenses incurred during 2001;


The amount to be deferred was greater than 40 percent of the revenue received by the electric utility in 2001 from Oregon customers; and


The commission determines that the higher rate impact is reasonable under the circumstances.


If the commission authorizes amortization of a deferred amount under subsection (10) of this section, an electric utility customer that uses more than one average megawatt of electricity at any site in the immediately preceding calendar year may prepay the customer’s share of the deferred amount. The commission shall adopt rules governing the manner in which:


The customer’s share of the deferred amount is calculated; and


The customer’s rates are to be adjusted to reflect the prepayment of the deferred amount.


The provisions of this section do not apply to a telecommunications utility. [1987 c.563 §2; 1989 c.18 §1; 1989 c.956 §1; 1993 c.175 §1; 1999 c.865 §31; 2001 c.733 §3; 2003 c.132 §1; 2003 c.234 §3]
Chapter 757

Notes of Decisions

Under regulatory scheme, Public Utility Commissioner has authority to promulgate rule limiting telephone company's liability for directory listing errors or omissions. Garrison v. Pacific NW Bell, 45 Or App 523, 608 P2d 1206 (1980)

Refund is proper exercise of Public Utility Commission's general powers if refund (1) is based only on information in existence at time of rate order for which refund is being made; (2) is not based on evaluation of public utility's actual expenses or revenues; and (3) is not effectuated by offsetting future rates. Gearhart v. Public Utility Commission, 255 Or App 58, 299 P3d 533 (2013), aff'd 356 Or 216, 339 P3d 904 (2014)

Atty. Gen. Opinions

Authority of Governor and Public Utility Commissioner to enter into binding agreements with respect to uniform curtailment plans, (1977) Vol 38, p 861


Last accessed
Jun. 26, 2021