Utility Regulation Generally
Consumer-owned utility offering direct access
- public purpose charge
- bill assistance program
(1)Beginning on the date a consumer-owned utility provides direct access to any class of retail electric consumers, the consumer-owned utility shall collect from that consumer class a nonbypassable public purpose charge until January 1, 2026. Except as provided in subsection (8) of this section, the amount of the public purpose charge shall be sufficient to produce revenue of not less than three percent of the total revenue collected by the consumer-owned utility from its retail electricity consumers for electricity services, distribution, ancillary services, metering and billing, transition charges and any other costs included in rates as of July 23, 1999, except that the consumer-owned utility may exclude from the calculation of such costs any cost related to the public purposes described in subsection (5) of this section. If a consumer-owned utility has fewer than 17 consumers per mile of distribution line, the amount of the public purpose charge shall be sufficient to produce revenue not less than three percent of the total revenue from the sale of electricity services in the utility’s service area to the consumer class that is provided direct access, or the utility’s consumer class percentage share of state total electricity sales multiplied by three percent of total statewide retail electric revenue, whichever is less.
(2)Except as provided in subsection (9) of this section, the governing body of a consumer-owned utility shall determine the manner of collecting and expending funds for public purposes required by law to be assessed against and paid by the retail electric consumers of the utility. A determination by the governing body shall include:
(a)The manner for collecting public purpose charges;
(b)Public purpose programs upon which revenue from the charges may be expended; and
(c)The allocation of expenditures for each program.
(3)Beginning on the same date two years after July 23, 1999, a consumer-owned utility shall report annually to the State Department of Energy created under ORS 469.030 (State Department of Energy) on the public purpose charges paid to the utility by its retail electric consumers and the public purposes on which the revenue was expended.
(4)A consumer-owned utility may comply with the public purpose requirements of this section by participating in collaborative efforts with other consumer-owned utilities located in this state.
(5)Funds assessed and paid by, and credits or other financial assistance issued or extended to, retail electric consumers for purposes of this section may, in the discretion of the governing body of the consumer-owned utility, be expended to fund programs for energy conservation, renewable resources or low-income energy services otherwise required by the laws of this state, adopted by the governing body pursuant to the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (Public Law 95-619, as amended November 10, 1981), or conducted by the utility pursuant to agreement with the Bonneville Power Administration under the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act (Public Law 96-501). All such funds expended, credits issued and incremental costs incurred in connection with the performance of a consumer-owned utility’s obligations under this section shall be credited toward the utility’s public purpose funding obligation under this section.
(6)A consumer-owned utility also may credit toward its funding obligations under this section any incremental costs incurred by the utility for capital expenditures made to reduce its distribution system energy losses, existing biomass gas and waste to energy systems, existing hydroelectric generation projects using fish attraction water, for new energy conservation and renewable resource funding costs included in its wholesale power supplier’s charges and for electric power generated by renewable or cogeneration resources pursuant to requirements of the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act of 1978 (Public Law 95-617), to the extent that such costs exceed the average cost of the utility’s other electric power resources.
(7)A consumer-owned utility also may credit toward its public purpose funding obligations under this section any costs incurred in complying with ORS 469.649 (Definitions for ORS 469.649 to 469.659) to 469.659 (Implementation of program by publicly owned utility).
(8)Beginning on March 1, 2002, a consumer-owned utility whose territory abuts the greatest percentage of the site of an aluminum plant that averages more than 100 megawatts of electricity use per year shall collect from the aluminum company a public purpose charge equal to one percent of the total revenue from the sale of electricity services to the aluminum plant from any source.
(9)(a) A retail electricity consumer that uses more than one average megawatt of electricity at any site in the prior year shall receive a credit against public purpose charges billed by a consumer-owned utility for that site. The amount of the credit shall be equal to the total amount of qualifying expenditures for new energy conservation, not to exceed 68 percent of the annual public purpose charges, and the above-market costs of purchases of new renewable energy resources incurred by the retail electricity consumer, less administration costs incurred under this subsection. The credit shall not exceed, on an annual basis, the lesser of:
(A)The amount of the retail electricity consumer’s qualifying expenditures; or
(B)The portion of the public purpose charge billed to the retail electricity consumer that is dedicated to new energy conservation, new market transformation or the above-market costs of new renewable resources.
(b)To obtain a credit under this subsection, a retail electricity consumer shall file with the department a description of the proposed conservation project, new market transformation or new renewable energy resource and a declaration that the retail electricity consumer plans to incur the qualifying expenditure. The department shall issue a notice of precertification within 30 days of receipt of the filing, if such filing is consistent with this subsection. Notice shall be issued to the retail electricity consumer and the appropriate consumer-owned utility. The credit may be taken after a retail electricity consumer provides a letter from a certified public accountant to the department verifying that the precertified qualifying expenditure has been made.
(c)Credits earned by a retail electricity consumer as a result of qualifying expenditures that are not used in one year may be carried forward for use in subsequent years.
(d)(A) A retail electricity consumer that uses more than one average megawatt of electricity at any site in the prior year may request that the department hire an independent auditor to assess the potential for conservation measures at the site. If the independent auditor determines there is no available conservation measure at the site that would have a simple payback of one to 10 years, the retail electricity consumer shall be relieved of 54 percent of its payment obligation for public purpose charges related to the site. If the auditor determines that there are potential conservation measures available at the site, the retail electricity consumer shall be entitled to a credit against public purpose charges related to the site equal to 54 percent of the public purpose charges less the estimated cost of available conservation measures.
(B)A retail electricity consumer shall be entitled each year to the credit described in this paragraph unless a subsequent audit determines that new conservation investment opportunities are available. The department may require that a new audit be performed on the site to determine whether new conservation measures are available, provided that the audits occur no more than once every two years.
(C)The retail electricity consumer shall pay the cost of the audits described in this subsection.
(10)A retail electricity consumer with a load greater than one average megawatt shall not be required to pay a public purpose charge in excess of three percent of the consumer’s total cost of electricity services unless the charge is established in an agreement between the consumer and the consumer-owned utility.
(11)Beginning on March 1, 2002, a consumer-owned utility shall have in operation a bill assistance program for households that qualify for federal low-income energy assistance in the consumer-owned utility’s service area. A consumer-owned utility shall report annually to the Housing and Community Services Department detailing the utility’s program and program expenditures.
(12)A consumer-owned utility may require an electricity service supplier to provide information necessary to ensure compliance with this section. The consumer-owned utility shall ensure the privacy and protection of any proprietary information provided. [1999 c.865 §27; 2001 c.819 §5; 2007 c.301 §29]
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