Alaska utilities to refund customers $1.2 million

Nick Rees Nov. 9, 2009, 3:11pm


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (Legal Newsline) - Customers in Alaska will be refunded an additional $1.2 million by two Fairbanks utility companies following an order sought by Attorney General Dan Sullivan from the Regulatory Commission of Alaska.

Golden Heart Utilities and College Utilities Corp., both wholly owned subsidiaries of Inland Pacific Resources, Inc., had petitioned the RCA in 2007 for permanent rate increases.

While the case was pending, a separate accounting was required of the two utilities for all amounts received under the interim and refundable rates along with related interest.

This year, the RCA approved a rate increase of less than what the utilities collected during the interim.

A refund plan was then filed by the utilities to pay the difference between what was actually collected and what was actually owed by consumers. The proposed refund plan was disputed by the Regulatory Affairs and Public Advocacy Section of the Attorney General's Office because the refunds were not calculated based upon the actual amount over-collected from customers as the law requires, Sullivan said.

The utilities instead proposed to base their refunds on the difference between company-wide revenues collected and revenues that could have been collected at previous higher sales volume. That refund plan was ultimately rejected on Oct. 8. A petition for reconsideration was then filed by the utilities.

The RCA ordered Golden Heart and College Utilities to refund customers the difference between interim rates paid and the final approved rates for the agency from 2007-2009. Residential metered customers are due to receive more than $100 each if the RCA ruling stands. The refunds will not be issued until appeals to the Superior Court are exhausted.

The ruling by RCA also affects two previously filed but still unresolved cases that could see the total refund liability of the two utilities rise to more than $12 million.

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