Automatic adjustments, which are either fuel clause adjustments (FCA) for electric utilities or purchased gas adjustments (PGA) for natural gas utilities, allow utilities to change rates between rate cases as the cost of fuel or natural gas fluctuates. This is different from rate cases where rates are set and do not change until the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decides a subsequent rate case. Typically, these rates change monthly. The Division of Energy Resources reviews FCA/PGA filings to ensure that the costs are reasonable, involve only those costs that are allowed to be passed through, and that the utility’s system for accounting for these costs is appropriate.
In the eDocket system: under “Docket Type” select “Auto Fuel Adj” to obtain all adjustments to electric rates and natural gas rates.
A rate case is a proceeding where there is a “snap-shot in time” of all aspects involved in a utility providing service to its retail customers to include:
financial elements (including balance sheet, income statement, and specific adjustments for any such item)
cost of capital, sales forecasts, rate design (which involves allocating costs to various customer classes setting rates for each class, and reviewing any changes in services)
conservation cost recovery and other factors
The Division of Energy Resources analyzes each aspect of the utility’s proposals in rate cases to ensure that the utility’s ratepayers pay reasonable rates (as required by law) and that the utility has a reasonable opportunity to recover its costs.
The goal of setting rates through a rate case is that, between rate cases, the utility should have sufficient incentive to minimize costs to increase its profits. Such cost minimization should then be reflected in the subsequent rate case. However, there is always a need to ensure that utilities include only just and reasonable costs in the rate case in the first place.
In the eDocket system: under “Docket Type” select “General Rate Case” to obtain all documents filed in general rate cases. Since numerous documents are filed in general rate cases, it is helpful to use the search results to find the docket number for the rate case(s) of most interest and refine the next search. For example, if a docket number of interest is 11-1234, then select 11 from the drop-down menu for the year and type in 1234 for the number.
Utilities propose many other changes to their rates or service; the Division of Energy Resources analyzes the proposals and makes recommendations to the Commission. The following is a partial list, including the “Docket type” in eDockets:
|Petition||Docket Type in eDockets|
|Competitive or discretionary rates||Misc. Changes|
|Purchased power agreements||Misc. Changes|
|Service quality||Misc. Changes|
|Franchise fees||Misc. Changes|
|Service area changes||Service Area|
|Affiliated-interest filings||Affiliated Interest|
|Commission investigations||PUC Investigation|
|Department investigations||DOC Investigation|
|Sale or acquisition of utility property||Prop. Acquisition|