Public Advocate Advisory

Approved Settlement Results in Electric Consumer Refunds

May 2, 2011

Anchorage, Alaska – Customers of Bethel Utilities Corporation (BUC), the investor-owned electric utility in the Bethel service area, will see a slight decrease in their monthly electric rates and will receive one-time refunds as a result of a stipulated settlement negotiated by the Regulatory Affairs & Public Advocacy (RAPA) section of the Attorney General's office.

RAPA, under the direction of the attorney general, acts as the public advocate in regulated utility matters. In April 2010, BUC filed for a 5% rate increase before the Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) and RAPA intervened in the case on behalf of the public interest. The City of Bethel, a large customer, also intervened in the proceeding.

At BUC's request, pending an investigation of whether the proposed rates were just and reasonable, the RCA initially granted an interim and refundable rate increase of 3.6%. The utility has been collecting the interim rate pending final outcome of the rate case review.

As a result of its investigation of the utility's proposal, RAPA challenged several aspects of BUC's proposed adjustments to its revenue requirement. The RCA recently approved a settlement agreement between the parties that will reduce BUC's requested rate increase by approximately 50% going forward on a permanent basis.

Because the final rates approved by the RCA are lower than the interim rate increase the utility was authorized to collect pending a final decision, BUC was ordered by the RCA to refund the difference to its customers. In all, BUC will be refunding a total of approximately $165,000 including interest.

Refunds will be credited to the bills of all current BUC customers and a check will be sent to former customers whose refund amount is $7 or more.  BUC provides electric service to approximately 2700 commercial and residential customers.

For more information, please contact Chief Assistant Attorney General Daniel Patrick O'Tierney, (907)269-5100.

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