Back in September, the Oregon Public Utility Commission ruled
that Portland General Electric
owed customers $33.1 million for overcharges on the Trojan nuclear plant.
The decision came after years of legal wrangling between PGE, the state's largest utility, and the Utility Reform Project. The watchdog URP argued that PGE was improperly earning a profit on Trojan long after the utility shuttered Trojan in 1992.
The PUC initially sided with PGE. But the Oregon Court of Appeals subsequently agreed with URP and ordered the regulatory agency to reconsider. The result? The refund for PGE's 800,000 customers.
Then last week, in a filing with the PUC, PGE sought permission
to charge customers for "incremental administrative costs associated with implementing the refund mechanism." And that cost for implementing the $33.1 million refund was no small sum: an estimated $1.25 million.
PGE's filing angered URP attorney Dan Meek. "We oppose this ridiculous request," Meek says. "The real value of what PGE overcharged customers is multiples of the [$33.1 million] settlement—and now they want to charge more for having overcharged in the first place?"
A PGE spokesperson wasn't immediately available for comment.
PGE spokesman Steve Corson says the PUC ruling ordering a refund said the utility could seek reimbursement for the costs of a refund. He explains that about 900,000 customers are eligible to get money back but about half of them have moved. Finding those people, Corson says, could be expensive:
"The [$1.25 million] is an estimate. We're not sure exactly what this is going to cost."