PORTLAND, Ore. —
Turning on the lights or charging your phone is going to cost a little more for Oregonians this year.
The Oregon Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has approved rate increases for the state’s two largest electric utilities. The new prices for customers of Portland General Electric and Pacific Power went into effect Jan. 1.
With the price of seemingly everything climbing, PUC Chair Megan Decker acknowledged that the rate hikes aren’t going to be welcome news for most customers.
“We recognize that increasing rates at a time when Oregonians are already dealing with high inflation presents challenges for many customers,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Pacific Power is also investing in wildfire mitigation and passing some of those costs along to customers. The utility was sued in 2020 after the devastating Labor Day fires after victims accused the company of failing to power down transmission likes in fire-prone areas.
So how much will bills go up?
For a typical residential PGE customer using 780 kilowatt hours per month, monthly bills are expected to increase from $114.54 to $122.60, or about 7% more than in 2022.
For customers of Pacific Power using around 900 kilowatt hours per month, bills are expected to increase from $91.89 to $111.34, a jump of more than 20%.
The PUC noted that increases will vary from customer to customer depending on electricity use. Decker also pointed out that both utilities have programs that can provide discounts to low-income households.
PGE offers a bill discount program ranging from 15 to 25% for low-income customers. The discount applies for gross annual household incomes at or below 60% of the State Median Income as of Oct. 2022. A four-person household, for example, would need to make $60,126 or under to qualify. For someone living alone, the income cutoff is $31,266.
Pacific Power has a similar program using the same eligibility criteria as PGE, which offers discounts between 20 and 40%.
There are also bill support programs offered by other agencies, like the Oregon Energy Fund, Oregon Energy Assistance Program, COVID Energy Assistance Program and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.