Before launching a rate proceeding, BPA convenes informal workshops with prospective rate case parties to review in detail the financial conditions, market conditions, load forecasts, and other information relevant to setting rates. This provides an informal opportunity for the prospective rate case parties to obtain preliminary information, and provide input, about BPA’s contemplated initial proposal.
Public Review of BPA's costs
Before beginning a rate case, BPA publicly reviews its expected costs. This cost review is currently conducted under the Integrated Business Review (IBR). The IBR structure is made up of two processes. The first part of the IBR is the Integrated Program Review (IPR), which will address proposed program costs prior to their inclusion in a rate case, and replaced the Power Function Review (PFR), Transmission Programs in Review (PIR), and the Capital Program Review (CPR). The second part of the IBR is the Quarterly Business Review (QBR). This part of the process focuses on cost trends and implications for expense and capital programs.
Rate case follows legal procedure
Once BPA has a forecast of the factors used in determining rates, it commences a specific legal procedure as defined in Section 7(i) of the Pacific Northwest Electric Power Planning and Conservation Act of 1980 (Northwest Power Act). At its essence, this process adds up BPA's expected power- or transmission-related costs for the rate period and divides these costs by the expected sales. In addition, there are specific rate directives in the Northwest Power Act that BPA must implement in its rate determination. The actual process is long, complex, and addresses many issues - from market risks to the legal rights of specific customer groups.
A rate proceeding may take up to ten months to complete. This does not include the preliminary work that takes place prior to the commencement of the formal rate case. The length of time can be shortened when there are fewer major issues are at stake or where rate case parties generally agree on the issues under review.