Commissioner paints bleak power picture

| 29 Sep 2011 | 08:34

    HARRISBURG - Last week state power regulators announced the results of a new “aggregate” auction, which was aimed at cutting the steep power rate increases placed on Pike County Light and Power customers in January. The auction results were not as positive as hoped, Public Utilities Commission member Bill Shane admitted in a May 4 statement. “Despite the good intentions and significant efforts of all involved, the results have been personally disappointing. Most of the consumers will see some marginal savings compared to Pike’s default service rates. However, several hundred residential and commercial customers may experience higher rates in 2007. “Furthermore, testimony at the April 11, 2006, hearing demonstrates that the customers of Pike County may never be offered the competitive services of any electric generation suppliers simply because the administrative costs are prohibitive when serving such a small electrical load.” Shane went on to say that while Pike is growing, the Pike County Light and Power service area remains too small to justify investment by new suppliers. “Testimony at the hearing indicated a 25 megawatt load was the meaningful threshold for competitive bidding. It would appear that without an aggregation program, no alternative offers would be made to Pike’s customers,” Shane said. Shane went on to say that he “was particularly disappointed with several responses of Pike (County Light and Power) and its affiliates at the hearing. It is obvious to me that the status quo cannot provide any reasonable result for Pike’s customers.” Shane anticipated the results of a commission fact-finding effort and suggested real answers may require imposing temporary rates, connecting the area to Pennsylvania’a transmission network “and the acquisition of Pike’s service territory by another operating public utility or rural electric cooperative.” “In 1983, this Commission placed Pike on notice that their Energy acquisition costs were unreasonable. These circumstances continue to this day.” Shane concluded.