The Utah Public Service Commission issued an order Tuesday that will extend the time it has to review Rocky Mountain Power's most recent rate-hike request.

State law requires the commission to review and decide on a rate case within 240 days, said commission spokeswoman Julie Orchard. The commission ruled that the 240 days for the utility's current rate case would be reset to begin on Sept. 10, rather than the original July 17 date.

Orchard said the decision to amend the start date came after several groups had challenged the original date. They argued that Rocky Mountain Power had added a second rate-increase request while the company already had a request before the commission, reducing the amount of time the commission had to fully concentrate on the pending case.

According to the commission order, the Committee for Consumer Services, Utah Industrial Energy Consumers and the Utah Association of Energy Users all filed challenges to the utility's pending rate case, contending that the company had been submitting information regarding the case while the first case was still under review. Orchard said the groups believed that because of the "pancake" rate cases, there had not been enough time for the commission or other interested parties to sufficiently study all the information that was being submitted by the utility.

Orchard said the commission agreed and ordered the commencement of the 240-day period to be moved to Sept. 10, the last date the utility submitted new information regarding the current rate case. But Orchard said that date could be amended once again pending the outcome of an Oct. 28 hearing on what test year should be used to determine future rates in the case.

"We just want to make sure that none of the facts are hidden," Orchard said. "We want to make sure that everything is fairly sorted out and the company is giving us accurate facts."

Rocky Mountain Power did not return a phone call Tuesday seeking comment.

On Monday, the commission said it would reconsider its most recent order that granted the state's largest electric utility a $33.4 million rate increase. The commission granted the hike last month, though the utility had requested more than twice as much.

The utility's second request pending before the commission for $85.2 million above the amount of the first request is an attempt to eventually gain a $160.6 million overall rate boost.

Earlier this month, following the commission's order on the first request, Rocky Mountain Power said it would cut back on customer service in Utah because the rate increase approved by the commission was insufficient to cover costs. Last week, the company backed off from that plan following meetings with state leaders, including the governor.


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