PRC Staff questions KCEC Rebate Process

By: Bill Whaley
30 July, 2017

IN THE MATTER OF THE FORMAL COMPLAINT OF BILL E. WHALEY AGAINST KIT CARSON ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE, INC. (CaseNo.17-00017-UT), which arose out of the KCEC request for rate increases in Case No. 15- 00375-UT, the PRC Staff and Complainant have raised a number of issues.

The complaint above and list of claims and questions grew out of KCEC’s request for a rate increase in December of 2015. After being granted the rate increase on Sept. 7, 2016 for non-residential customers and Dec. 7 for residential customers, the member-Interveners discovered KCEC had retroactively billed members. Intervener Rose DesGeorges and Jerome Lucero raised the issue with the PRC in early Jan. 2017. Intervener Whaley filed a “formal complaint” on or about Feb. 1 of 2017.

Since that time the PRC has issued four bench request orders in an attempt to clarify what KCEC’s claims is an “inadvertent” billing error, an error amounting to a total of $243,979.78, affecting 20,369 customers, due members. Although KCEC “claims” it has issued rebates in the June billing cycle to customers, the Coop has provided no “tangible evidence” of credits due in the form of “other” or “rate adjustments” i.e. copies of specific bills with the information.

Under DSA (debt service adjustment) on Mr. Whaley’s three electric bills in June there is a negative .89 credit but it is not identified as either a “rate adjustment” or “other.” Nor have “anecdotal” conversations with one of KCEC’s largest commercial members revealed a “credit” due.

If KCEC members have received credits on their June bills please contact Mr. Whaley at bwhaley@newmex.com. KCEC has not issued a press release on its web site providing “transparent” clarification of the rebate process identifying the credits due members in all its classes.

The following information, quoted, is from Staff and KCEC responses to the PRC’s “4th Bench Request Order.

1. According to staff, KCEC claims it has completed an analysis of some 17, 785 residential customers due $166,944.16.

2. Further, according to staff, KCEC claims it has completed an analysis of some 2584 non-residential (small and large commercial, irrigation) customers due $77,035.62.

3. Staff says, “According to Kit Carson’s Response to Fourth Bench Request Order, it completed the billing adjustments to its Rate No. 1, Rate No. 2, Rate No. 17, and Rate No. 18 customers during the June 2017 billing period. These are the residential customer classes of Kit Carson that were affected by the Final Order.”

4. Staff says, “according to Kit Carson’s Response to Fourth Bench Request Order, it completed the billing adjustments to these non-residential customers during the June 2017 billing period.”

5. Staff says: “It does not appear from the record in Case No. 15-00375-UT that Kit Carson caught these errors internally, and was only aware they had issued erroneous bills, inconsistent with the Commission’s orders, when they received complaints from the affected customers.”

6. “As a result, Staff believes that an independent review of KCEC’s billing process be conducted now that the refund process has been completed.”

7. “Finally, despite KCEC having completed the refund process, Staff’s concerns with the pace of that process have not been alleviated. The initial billing errors resulted from Kit Carson’s erroneous implementation of the September 7 Order to non-residential customers in the August-September 2016 billing period. That is nearly one year ago. The residential billing errors arose from KCEC’s similarly erroneous implementation of the December 7 Order involving bills for the November-December 2016 billing period. That is more than 7 months ago. Staff cannot find a reasonable explanation for the extenuated time period it took for Kit Carson to identify and refund the erroneous bills.

8. (From CEO Luis Reyes’s Affidavit, attached to KCEC Response to PRC’s 4th Bench Request Order.) According to Reyes, “Kit Carson has completed billing adjustments during its June 2017 billing period to all classes of current customers arising from its inadvertent billing errors. There are no additional customer classes for whom Kit Carson must calculate or determine billing adjustments arising from the implementation of the Commission’s rate orders in KCEC’s 2015 Rate Case. As Kit Carson previously noted, due to limitations of the parameters in KCEC’s printing software, refunds will be identified on the electric bills sent to customers as “Other Charges,” (Editor’s Bold) but show a negative amount. For those customers that obtain and pay their electric bill on-line, any refund amount will be identified as “Rate Adjustment,” (Editor’s Bold) again with a negative amount.”

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