PUC Outlines Possible Changes in Regulatory Process

Published Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently completed a report on proposed changes in the utility regulations process that seek to make utilities more responsive to issues related to climate change and equity.

The report, which was authorized by the 2017 Legislature through Senate Bill 978, outlines how the PUC could use “the powerful tools of economic regulation to achieve the objectives that the Legislature prioritizes for Oregon’s regulated utilities.” Here are the objectives identified by SB 978 and how the report says the PUC is considering responding to them: 

  1. Climate Change: “Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a high priority goal for the State of Oregon and the PUC’s stakeholders, but the PUC lacks a clear mandate to address emissions except as an economic risk. The Legislature should take up this regulatory gap.”
  2. Affordability, Equity and Environmental Justice: “The Legislature should consider ways to improve equitable and affordable access to energy sources.” The report says some steps used elsewhere, “such as rate discounts, may not be possible within the PUC’s current authority.” 
  3. Retail Customer Options: “The PUC will enable customer and competitive options to be fully and accurately valued.”
  4. Utility Incentive Alignment: “The PUC will launch a performance-based regulation process to align utility incentives with customer objectives.” 
  5. Regional Market Development: Promoting regional market development “is a foundation for enabling efficient wholesale competition and resource diversity to lower costs and risks to customers.” 
  6. Participation: “The PUC will implement a strategy for engagement and in PUC processes, particularly from community-based groups new to the PUC.”  

To read the full report, click here.

To read an executive summary of the report, click here.

To read a previous article about testimony on the proposed regulations, click here.

If the PUC gets new authority to incorporate factors such as climate change into rate setting, this would have an impact on all businesses across the state. OBI will continue to work with our member companies to advocate for policies that recognize the investments and efforts that Oregon businesses have made to reduce greenhouse gases and to ensure that any regulatory changes are clear, consistent and do not put Oregon companies at a competitive disadvantage.