The suspension will allow time for the PUC's staff of auditors, engineers and attorneys to thoroughly review the company's application. PacifiCorp does business as Rocky Mountain Power in southeastern Idaho, where it serves about 70,000 customers.
The PUC has set an intervention deadline of June 30 for parties seeking intervenor status in the case. Parties, typically representing large customers or groups of customers, intervene in rate cases to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, participate in settlement conferences and make and argue motions.
Rocky Mountain Power states the rate increase is needed to cover expenses for more than $4 billion of new plant investment and $87 million in increased power supply costs. Investments proposed in this case are already serving customers or will be by the end of the year.
Investments include eight new wind generation plants, a 345 kV transmission line, environmental improvements and upgrades at various power plants, hydropower relicensing and upgrade investments.
According to testimony filed by the company, lower load projections and current economic conditions have caused Rocky Mountain to scale back some transmission and distribution capital expenditures from previously planned levels. The company has reduced its 10-year capital budget from nearly $2.2 billion per year to $1.6 billion annually and plans no investments in new company-owned generation until 2014.
Despite those reductions, Rocky Mountain asserts it still must continue its multiyear program of investing in renewable energy, transmission facilities and environmental controls.