This letter is a rebuttal to Paul Puebla’s letter to the editor in the June 19, 2013 edition of the Torrington Telegram.
In the beginning of the electrical rate challenge against the city of Torrington (COT) before the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) in 2010, the COT originally requested a rate increase, which would total $1,703,317 over a two-year period. The intervention before the PSC against the COT has saved the electrical rate payers of Torrington approximately $2,162,896 through the end of June, 2013.
The COT argued at the PSC hearings that “its net operating income would fall below a recommended 8 percent through the planning period, and its cash balance would be exhausted by 2012” if not granted the increase.
However, the COT has done very well without the increase. Since the rate increase denial, the COT has increased its budget every year. According to the city’s website, the budget figures show an increase of 28 percent from fiscal years 2011 to 2014.
Despite the fact the COT has increased its budget every year, Gov. Matt Mead and the Wyoming Legislature have decreased the state’s budget substantially, and the Goshen County Commissioners have also followed suit.
Had there not been interveners against the city, the rate increase would have been granted without opposition. This was the first time in the history of Torrington that an intervention by rate customers challenged an increase. Mayor Mike Varney was a proponent of the electrical rate increase even though he campaigned on a platform to decrease electrical rates for city customers.
According to its website, the PSC defines its responsibility as ensuring the public utilities operating in Wyoming provide safe and reliable service to customers at just and reasonable rates. Wyoming State Statute 37-3-106(a) states that, the burden of proof for justification of any rate increase is borne upon the utility requesting such an increase.
The COT failed to justify their proposed rate increase. The final ruling confirmed the PSC’s duties were fulfilled professionally and in accordance with the law given to them by the Wyoming Legislature.
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