The PSB is investigating two separate matters relating to Readsboro Electric Light Department. On June 30, 2009, the PSB issued an order opening an investigation into the rates charged by Readsboro Electric. State statute relating to public utilities states “a company may not change its schedules of rates except upon 45 days notice to the PSB and the Department of Public Service.” It also requires that public service companies “make no deviation, directly or indirectly, from the rates for any service rendered by it.”
The PSB opened the investigation due to concerns raised by the Department of Public Service.
After the PSB approved the sale of Readsboro Electric to Central Vermont Public Service Corporation, the PSB became aware of an allegation that Readsboro Electric was billing customers at rates not authorized from a 26.82% rate increase. The 26.82% increase went into effect in July 2007.
Shortly afterward, the PSB approved the acquisition of Readsboro Electric by CVPS. According to docket number 7532, the DPS “informed the Board that it had learned that Readsboro Electric was billing customers at rates lower than its authorized tariffs.”
The PSB did not pursue the allegation because the acquisition was pending. The town has twice rejected the sale of Readsboro Electric to CVPS. The current investigation will determine “whether Readsboro Electric has billed its customers inappropriate rates in violation of its approved tariffs and state statute.” If violations are found, the PSB will determine whether penalties will be imposed.
The PSB was informed in a letter from Larry Hopkins on November 12, 2008, that refunds were due Readsboro Electric customers. The PSB asked Readsboro Electric to demonstrate that it had fully complied. But according to the PSB, Readsboro Electric did not provide an adequate response “to verify that Readsboro Electric appropriately refunded its customers.” As a result, the PSB is investigating whether customers received appropriate refunds in accordance with the 26.82% increase.
A second investigation deals with an additional rate increase. Readsboro Electric filed a 24.46% increase on its retail rates. If approved, the rate increase would take effect on a service-rendered basis retroactive to October 1, 2009. Docket 7564 states the proposed rate increase “will produce additional revenues in the amount of $73,379.”
According to PSB clerk Susan Hudson, the investigation into the 24.46% rate increase is standard procedure. Hudson said the PSB is required to investigate whenever a public utility requests a rate increase.
Andrea McHugh, a PSB utilities analyst, will conduct the public hearing on Wednesday, November 18, at 7 pm, at the Readsboro Central School Gymnasium.
Residents may submit written comments electronically to email@example.com or by mail to Vermont PSB, 112 State St., Montpelier, VT 05620-2701.