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Rate Adjustments and Public Involvement

Annual power repayment studies determine whether current rates will generate enough revenue to meet repayment requirements. If it does, it can continue in effect or be extended. However, if the rate is excessive or insufficient, we develop a new rate to meet the new revenue requirements. If any adjustments need to be made, Western's administrator may make the announcement directly to customers or through various media, such a newspaper advertisements or news releases. However, they are most commonly announced in a Federal Register notice. These policies comply with 10 CFR Part 903.

Typically, we meet with customers before any formal rate process. The next step in the public involvement begins with a notice in the Federal Register about the rate proposal. It describes why the new rate is necessary and estimates the new rate. While we are mandated by law to seek comments from the public on proposed rate adjustments, we value their input. We include opportunities for the public to receive information and provide comments during the rate proposal process.

The Federal Register notice about a proposed rate also includes the location, dates, and times of any public meetings and an invitation for comments, either oral or written. We allow the public a specific time period, usually 90 days, to gather information about the rate proposal and provide comments.

We normally host two kinds of public meetings concerning rate adjustments. A public information forum involves a formal presentation by Western staff, as well as questions and comments from the audience. After the forum, we provide written responses to questions that require more detailed answers. We hold a public comment forum to allow citizens to voice their opinions and suggestions about the prosposed rate adjustment on the public record. We make no presentation at this meeting and do not address questions in the formal portion of the meeting. All comments are considered during the rate development process.

Both types of forums are formal, and normally a court reporter records the proceedings. If public participation leads to significant changes in the proposed rate adjustment, a modified proposal may be published in the Federal Register and the public will be given an opportunity to comment on the modifications.

The public involvement process allows citizens to provide input before we make a power rate decision that may affect them. It offers Western an opportunity to understand issues important to the public, as well as to educate the public about our rate development assumptions and data.

We provide background data, studies, reports and other documents used in developing the proposed rate to anyone interested. Additionally, during this public process, Western representatives explain the proposal and welcome suggestions for its modification. Interested people may also submit written comments to Western concerning the proposed rate.

After the consultation and comment period, we review oral and written comments on the proposed rate or revised proposal. All this may lead Western to modify the proposal, which can, in turn, lead to more public participation and comment. Then, Western's administrator develops a final proposed rate. Lastly, this rate is forwarded to the deputy secretary of energy to confirm, approve, and place in effect on an interim basis. The authority of the deputy secretary to approve the rate is granted by DOE's Order No. 204-108, (58 Fed. Reg. 59, 716 11/10/93).

Next, we forward the interim rate, all supporting documents and the public record to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission per FERC's Filing Requirements and Procedures for Approving the Rates of Federal Power Marketing Administrations, 18 CFR Part 300. Commission members may confirm, approve and place the final rate in effect, send it back to Western for further study or disapprove it.


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