Utah Ratepayers Association
Education and Lobbying for Ratepayers of Utility-type Services with Limited or No Alternatives
Public Service Commission Considers Changing its Procedural Rules
Will it be harder for individual consumers, and groups such as the Utah Ratepayers Association, to be heard?
The Commission invited written comments to be submitted by Friday, 1 June, and will hold a Public Meeting on Wednesday, 6 June 2007.
For a link to the comments posted on the Commission's website, to see its Notice of Public Meeting, and to read an article by Utah Ratepayers Association Bursar, Larry Norman, published in the Salt Lake Tribune on Sunday, 3 June, click on this button:
Ratepayers appeal Questar Gas rate increase to Utah Supreme Court
55 ratepayers asked the Utah Supreme Court to review a contentious Public Service Commission decision. The Court heard oral arguments from the attorneys for the ratepayers, Commission, etc, on 27 February 2007.
On 1 August 2003, the Court reversed a 2000 Commission order granting a $5 million a year rate increase to Questar for processing coal-seam gas. More than a year later, the Commission ordered the utility to refund the $29 million (including interest) it had collected from ratepayers, saying Questar hadn't acted prudently or independent of affiliated companies.
Questar soon asked for a new rate increase to pay for the same thing. The Division of Public Utilities supported Questar, as it had the first time. Shortly after Governor Huntsman fired Committee of Consumer Services' director, Roger Ball, Questar started negotiating privately with the Committee, which had appealed the first increase to the Supreme Court. The Committee held at least three secret meetings, one in breach of the Utah Open & Public Meetings Act, and then decided to support Questar. The Commission awarded the utility $4 million a year beginning in February 2006.
Public Service Commission denies Questar request for 825,000 customers to pay more so 8,600 can pay less
Ever since natural gas first became available in Salt Lake in 1929, folks in other areas have wanted it, too, for its convenience and economic development potential. But laying pipelines to smaller communities that are distant from Questar's existing infrastructure is very expensive.
Between 1987 and 1995, service was extended to some 34 small cities and towns on condition customers pay higher rates than normal for between 10 and 20 years. Now, some of them are complaining that the higher prices are a hardship to them, and frightening new businesses away. So Questar Gas wants the Public Service Commission to let off some 8,600 customers and spread the cost over all its ratepayers.
Once again, the Division of Public Utilities supported Questar and, after initial concerns that were resolved in private negotiations and a secret meeting, the Committee of Consumer signed on, too. Only Roger Ball asked the Commission to consider this matter from the perspective of the majority of ratepayers during the formal hearing on 27 March 2007. On 24 April, the Commission denied Questar's request.
Last Modified: 2 February 2008