Following is a brief history of electric utility restructuring (customer
choice and generation deregulation) in Utah:
The Utah Public Service Commission (UPSC) opened an Electric Utility
Industry Restructuring Docket (No. 96-999-01) on January 24, 1996 to
review the nature and possible need for regulatory changes in Utah due to
changes in the electric industry. Informal technical conferences were held
where most electric restructuring topics were studied and discussed. Most
stakeholders that possibly might be impacted by electric restructuring
participated in this docket in some manner. Topics studied and discussed
included: Technology Changes, Objectives, Legal Issues, Pilot Programs,
Economic Analysis, System Reliability, Stranded Costs and System Benefits. The
last technical conference held under this Docket was on September 4, 1997. Four
subcommittees presented reports to the UPSC.
The Utah Legislature passed House Bill 313,
"Electrical Deregulation and Customer Choice Task Force".
This bill established a Legislative Task Force of Senators and Representatives
to study electric utility industry restructuring with particular emphasis on
stranded costs, customer choice, unfair cost shifting and competition issues.
The Task Force also looked at the extent to which municipal, public, and
member-owned providers of electric services should participate in electric
deregulation and customer choice. The bill placed a rate freeze on investor
owned electric utilities until 60 days after the conclusion of the 1998 State
Legislative session ( May 4, 1998). Rates were frozen at January 31, 1997 rate
levels for Utah Power & Light (the state's only investor owned electric
utility). Utah Power implemented a 1.7% ($12.4 million) interim rate decrease
effective April 15, 1997. Legislative Task Force meetings were held regularly
beginning May 28, 1997, and most stakeholders participated including the UPSC,
Division of Public Utilities, Committee of Consumer Services, the Municipals,
Cooperatives, PacifiCorp, League of Women Voters, United We Stand, Utah Office
of Energy and Resource Planning, Salt Lake Community Action Program, Power
Marketers, Aggregators, etc. The Task Force held its last meeting for 1997 on
November 13, 1997. The Task Force prepared a 1997 Interim Report which was
presented to a Legislative Interim Committee on November 19, 1997. The Task
Force made recommendations for the 1998 Legislative Session and its plans for
1998 Task Force work.
The 1998 Utah Legislature passed House Joint
Resolution 7, "Resolution on Restructuring of
Electrical Industry" as amended, which recommended that the
Electrical Deregulation and Customer Choice Task Force work continue in 1998,
that the HB 313 rate freeze be allowed to expire, that a full rate hearing for
Utah Power & Light be allowed to proceed before the Utah Public Service
Commission, and, that the Task Force was to determine whether electric
restructuring legislation should be prepared for introduction in the 1999
General Legislature Session. The Task Force met during 1998 and completed its final
report on November 18, 1998.
The Task Force Report concluded that ". . . consideration of a
comprehensive electrical restructuring plan during the 1999 General Session [of
the Legislature] is premature." The Task Force also recommended further
legislative study of electric restructuring as well as monitoring of
restructuring efforts at the Federal level and in other states. The Task Force
indicated that further legislative study and monitoring will position Utah to
implement restructuring when it is in the best interest of the state. In
response to a request from the Task Force, the UPSC submitted four reports to
the Electric Restructuring Task Force on Unbundling, Consumer Protection,
Market Power and Transition Costs.
Senate Bill 15,
passed by the Utah Legislature, reauthorized the Electric Deregulation and
Customer Choice Task Force until November 30, 2000. The Task Force met twice
during 1999 with no customer choice legislation being proposed.
Senate Bill 250,
passed by the Utah Legislature, extended the Electrical Deregulation and
Customer Choice Task Force until November 30, 2002. The Task Force met several
times and followed the progress of an informal working group composed of all
interested parties. No customer choice legislation was ultimately proposed.
House Bill 244,
passed by the Utah Legislature, renamed the Electrical Deregulation and Customer
Choice Task Force, the Energy Policy Task Force. The law also changed the Task
Forces's duties to include studying the energy needs of the State.
Further information on the legislative task forces can be found at http://www.le.utah.gov. Look under "archive"
for previous year information.