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Letter to the editor: More banter on Torrington rates

Posted: Wednesday, Jul 3rd, 2013

Nowhere in my June 19 letter did I say, “It was a bad thing for the citizens of Torrington to pay the seventh-lowest rate of 12 municipal-owned utilities in Wyoming,” as Michael Bond wrote.

I said, “Even with the summer increase, Torrington electrical rates are the seventh lowest out of 175 Wyoming towns and cities listed on the internet from a to y.”

This type of fact adjusting was done by the “interveners” at the city’s last PSC hearing, such as convincing the PSC Torrington has transmission lines. Power companies use transmission lines to supply huge amounts of electrical power throughout the country. Torrington has small distribution lines.

PSC agreed with the “interveners” and felt Torrington should have lines-of-credit at banks. Lines-of-credit for cities are against state statutes, but since for-profit electrical companies have lines-of-credit, the PSC, ignorant of city/state governance, continued to violate its directives from the Legislature.

These directives follow in part: “It is the PSC’s responsibility to ensure the public utilities operating in Wyoming provide safe and reliable service to customers at just and reasonable rates. The PSC, however, does not regulate municipal water systems or municipal gas and electric utilities, except for that portion of their operations outside city limits.”

Shortly after receiving the PSC order to refund an average of less than $50 to out-of-city customers, the electrical department had to replace a major transformer costing almost as much as the PSC’s limit for electrical reserves. The money refunded was a rate approved by the PSC. Torrington cannot collect electrical service monies for out-of-city customers without PSC approval.

The main reason there are summer and winter rates is Torrington’s electrical power delivered on transmission lines from MEAN, Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska, charges Torrington summer/winter rates, so a fair formula is difficult to figure, especially with out-of-town customers. Those really involved with the electrical question know Torrington is the only Wyoming municipality with MEAN.

Had the Public Service Commission ordered the city to refund in-city ratepayers, the electrical budget would have been in jeopardy. That order would have been just as blatant a violation of their legislative directives as delving into Torrington’s budget.

Perhaps the administration doesn’t want another $25,000 suit neither legal side thought worthy of court hearing.


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