PSC Approves Smaller BPU Rate Increase

The state Public Service Commission has approved less new annual revenue for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities than the city-owned utility had requested in the electric rate case.

The BPU in March 2015 had asked for a 2.48 percent increase in annual revenue, which would have totaled $1,197,760 annually in new revenue. However, the Public Service Commission only approved a 1.69 percent increase that will total $816,352. This is $381,408, or 32 percent, less than what BPU officials had requested.

According to the filing by the Public Service Commission, the rate increase request by the BPU was not driven by the revenue payment from the BPU electric and water divisions to the city’s general fund since 2013. Todd Tranum, Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive officer and Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier executive director, and several manufacturing leaders had submitted public comments to the Public Service Commission alleging that the need for a BPU rate increase was directly related to the revenue sharing payment with the city’s general fund. With the approval of the BPU revenue payment toward the city’s 2016 budget, a total of $1,859,000 has been given in electric and/or water revenues toward the city’s fiscal plan the last four years.

For the 2016 city budget, the BPU approved $433,481 from electric and $48,519 from water; in 2015, the BPU approved $482,000 from the electric division; in 2014, $475,000 from the electric division; and in 2013, $300,000 from electric and $120,000 from water.

The Public Service Commission said the revenue contributions are not a driver of the requested electric rate increase.

“Additionally, the (public) comments do not accurately portray the nature of the revenue contributions made to Jamestown,” the filing stated.

The Public Service Commission said the revenue contributions provided to the city of Jamestown in 2014 represent approximately 19 percent of net income available for surplus and therefore the commission doesn’t have any concerns over the recent level of contributions when compared to income.