Flathead Electric Co-op
Flathead Electric Cooperative announced Tuesday that it will rebate $33 as a credit on the average home's electric bill in November.
The rebate follows a final record of decision issued last week by the Bonneville Power Administration.
Bonneville responded last week to three 2007 Ninth Circuit Court rulings with a decision that will lower its wholesale power rates by 1 percent for fiscal year 2009, return an additional quarter of a billion dollars in past overcharges to the region's consumer-owned (public) utilities in 2009, return additional overpayments in future years, and re-establish Residential Exchange Program benefits to most of the region's investor-owned (private) utilities.
Flathead Electric's member/consumer-owned structure makes it a public utility.
Under the Residential Exchange Program, BPA began making payments to its private-utility customers in October 2002 to offset their higher power costs. Funding for the payments, as with all BPA operational costs, came from rates charged to public utilities.
Public utilities filed suit, claiming the agreements violated the 1980 Northwest Power Act and overpaid private utilities. The Ninth Circuit Court agreed in a May 2007 ruling, ordering Bonneville to rectify the situation.
Bonneville made its partial restitution of $4.9 million to Flathead Electric this spring. Anticipating some payment, Flathead Electric had rebated $3 million last November in the form of a $28 credit on the average home's power bill.
Then last week, Bonneville announced it overcharged Flathead Electric $6.2 million from October 2002 until the Residential Exchange Program was suspended in May 2007. With accrued interest, the total amounted to $6.5 million.
Flathead Electric announced Tuesday it will rebate the entire amount to its members.
Future rate increases are a certainty, especially after the cooperative's present contract with BPA expires in 2011. After that, Bonneville will cap the amount of power it sells to Flathead Electric, sending the cooperative to the open market to supply its load growth.
For now, General Manager Ken Sugden said the co-op's growth over the last few years generated enough revenue to smooth out the increases, cover capital improvements and offset increases in demand.
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