The state's utility-watchdog group and a consortium of industrial energy users are asking the Utah Public Service Commission to throw out Rocky Mountain Power's most recent rate-increase request.

The Committee of Consumer Services and Utah Industrial Energy Consumers have each filed documents asking the Public Service Commission to dismiss the rate-hike request that Rocky Mountain Power made last month.

Rocky Mountain Power filed an application with the commission requesting a total rate increase of $160.6 million, or 11.2 percent more than Rocky Mountain Power's rates at that time. The July request was the second in seven months by the utility.

In December, the utility requested an increase of $161.2 million. The commission in March issued an order requiring the company to reduce its rate-increase request to $99.8 million.

The company reduced its request again in May to $84.5 million and yet again in June to $74.4 million. But in its final order last week, the commission determined that the increase should be only $33.4 million, or 2.4 percent.

The increase was estimated to cost the average residential customer approximately $16 per year, according to the commission.

The utility's second request, for $85.2 million beyond the amount of the first request, was an attempt to eventually gain the $160.6 million overall rate boost.

Committee of Consumer Services director Michele Beck said her agency is calling on the commission to "dismiss without prejudice" the current rate case. She said if the dismissal is granted, then Rocky Mountain Power would be able to refile another at later date.

Following the last order, Beck said that in rendering the decision, the commission set forth specific policy standards on what costs are acceptable and what methodologies are appropriate when utilities submit rate-increase requests. That decision could be used as a precedent for future rate cases, she said.

If Rocky Mountain Power doesn't like the commission's order this month on the first rate-hike request, then it needs to "follow proper procedure which would be to appeal it essentially," Beck said. "But to file again using the same costs, that's improper."

The Deseret News attempted to contact attorneys for the Utah Industrial Energy Consumers but was unsuccessful.

The written motion from that group to the commission stated that "because the earliest appropriate rate-case test period for again adjusting Rocky Mountain Power's rates is calendar year 2009, Rocky Mountain Power cannot properly refile a rate-case application until near the end of 2008."

Since the commission last week approved less than half of Rocky Mountain Power's scaled-back initial request, spokesman Dave Eskelsen said Monday that the utility plans to take time to digest the future implications of the decision. The company has yet to respond to the latest order.

"After reviewing the order, we'll probably have more to say on what actions the company will take in the future and how that will affect the case that was filed in July," he said.


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