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Ninth Circuit Victory Assures Electricity Rate Stability

Representing Portland General Electric Company, Tonkon Torp appellate lawyers Scott Seidman and Robyn Ridler Aoyagi successfully argued for the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold a settlement by the Bonneville Power Administration regarding a cost component of certain power rates for investor-owned and consumer-owned utilities. The court’s decision represents a multi-billion dollar victory for the investor-owned utilities (including PGE) on behalf of their rate payers, and was achieved through a cooperative effort by the utilities and BPA.

For 12 years, Tonkon Torp has represented PGE in ongoing litigation about BPA’s Residential Exchange Program that enables investor-owned utilities to obtain the benefit of lower cost BPA power and pass those savings on to their residential and small farm customers. Consumer-owned utilities and their customers have fought the Residential Exchange Program because it causes the price of their power to increase. A 2001 settlement between BPA and the investor-owned utilities was overturned in 2007. A new, mediated settlement among the parties was reached in 2012, but was challenged by some large consumers of power sold by the consumer-owned utilities. 

The Ninth Circuit decision not only affirms BPA’s 2012 settlement for Residential Exchange Program benefits from 2012 to 2027, but also resolves all disputes over the benefits for BPA’s 2001 – 2011 fiscal years.

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