Two major electric utilities in Oregon were granted hefty rate increases that will take effect in January.Portland General Electric and Pacific Power both won approval for rate increases of 14.8%, the Oregon Public Utility Commission said in a news release. The percentage represents an average for all types of customers combined. The increases stem from higher power costs for the utilities and, in the case of Pacific Power, costs to lower wildfire risks in the future.The impact of the increases will vary depending on energy use, but the utility commission released these general guidelines:PGE: A typical residential customer using 780 kilowatt hours per month can expect monthly bills to increase from $114.54 to $122.60, which is about a 7% increase.Pacific Power: A typical residential customer using 900 kilowatt hours per month can expect monthly bills to increase from $91.89 to $111.34, which is about a 21.2% increase.
However, across all residential accounts, the increase averages out to 15.1% increase.'We recognize that increasing rates at a time when Oregonians are already dealing with high inflation presents challenges for many customers,' said Megan Decker, chairperson of the state utility commission, which regulates Oregon utilities and rates. 'Unfortunately, fuel cost increases and supply chain delays caused by global events, combined with increasing volatility in regional electricity markets, drive the price for utilities to produce and purchase electricity. Although the utilities cannot avoid all of the impacts of these higher prices in the short term, there may be options available for residential customers to help reduce the bottom line impact.'According to federal statistics, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S.
residential customer was 886 kilowatt hours per month in 2021. The average monthly electrical bill in Oregon was about $100 a month, according to 2021 federal data.In seeking the increase, Pacific Power cited 'significant increases' in its estimated costs to both produce power and purchase power, as well as global supply chain problems. PGE also cited increased production costs.The national inflation rate was around 7% at the end of November but 13% for energy costs.Both companies said they had help for customers who were having trouble paying their energy bills.
Portland General Electric and Pacific Power offer some discount programs for lower-income residents, depending on gross income and household size.PGE: URL Power: URL.htmlThose monthly discounts offered by the two companies are in addition to help customers can find through the following community organizations the utilities work with: Oregon Energy Fund, Oregon Energy Assistance Program, COVID Energy Assistance Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.