Earlier this month, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) issued its order in Puget Sound Energy’s most recent rate case. The WUTC rejected PSE’s proposed rate increases for electricity and natural gas (8.1% and 3% respectively) and ordered PSE to file new tariffs reflecting an increase in electricity of 3.2% and 1.3% for natural gas. This rate case originated with an initial filing by PSE in June 2011 with almost one full year of deliberation before this final order. The WUTC Order is available for viewing here. Notably, the Commission also rejected a proposal by Puget Sound Energy to implement a Conservation Savings Adjustment (CSA) tariff that would allow the company to recover revenue that it would otherwise realize if not for its conservation programs. The CSA was the company’s preferred approach to solving the long-standing regulatory dilemma of alignment of the utility’s financial interest with the practical effects of its conservation activities (see story below for commentary on this issue). The Commissioners rejected the CSA while clearly favoring an approach that conforms more closely to a policy paper it had previously issued related to “decoupling”. In an interesting companion decision to this action that leaves a disconnection between the utility’s financial interest and its conservation programs, the WUTC also lowered PSE’s Return on Equity from 10.1% to 9.8%. The Commission Order is effective immediately.
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