Anatomy of a
Typical Rate Case
Rate cases have many points at which the Commission
staff or outside parties, called intervenors, get to have a say in how the case
To help you understand the timeline and progress of a typical rate
case, we have prepared the following summary.
Application is Filed
Commission has 30 days to determine if the filing meets the requirements and
can be deemed “sufficient,” that is, it meets all of the statutory and rule
requirements for filing a rate case. If it is deficient, it is sent back to
the utility with an explanation of why it was found deficient.
administrative law judge will issue a Procedural Order setting forth the date for and the language to be used to notify customers of the filing. It will also
set forth the deadline for filing an application to intervene, dates for the
parties to file direct testimony and dates for the applicant’s rebuttal
testimony, surrebuttal and rejoinder testimony.
Additionally, a hearing date
and public comment dates may be set. This information is available on
is the time period during which the parties review the application and exchange
or subpoena information during the course of the case.
Commission will hold public comment sessions in the affected communities on an
as needed basis.
This is usually determined by the amount of public interest
in the matter.
Public comment sessions are one way that ratepayers can have a
voice in the process.
Although there are many ways for the public to
participate, these meetings are generally the most local and accessible way for
the affected populations to be heard.
A court reporter documents the entire
proceeding and comments become part of the official record that the Commissioners
review before making a decision.
Submission of Applicant’s Testimony
will file testimony supporting their application so that it can be reviewed
prior to a hearing.
Submission of Staff’s and Intervener
deadline for the filing of staff and intervener testimony is typically the same
Submission of Rebuttal Testimony
applicant may submit testimony in response to staff and intervener testimony.
Submission of Surrebuttal and Rejoinder
and intervenors may submit testimony, called surrebuttal testimony, in response
to the applicant’s rebuttal testimony. Rejoinder testimony may be filed by the
applicant in response to the staff and intervener testimony.
a settlement – an agreement among the parties – can be reached, it is usually
drafted and submitted to the Commission prior to the hearing. The hearing will
still go forward and the focus will be on examining whether the terms of the
settlement are sound and in the public interest. Sometimes, in hotly contested
cases, a settlement is reached after the evidentiary hearing. In such a case, a
secondary hearing on the merits of the settlement would still occur. Any
settlement agreement will need to be based on the principles of fair value rate
administrative law judge presides over a hearing to examine the evidence in the
case. The staff, applicant and interveners are given an opportunity to
question and cross-examine witnesses under oath. The administrative law judge
will question witnesses as well. Members of the public may attend hearings.
The administrative law judge will also allow public comments before the formal
Commissioners may be present at hearings as well and ask
questions of witnesses.
Recommended Opinion and Order
administrative law judge will prepare recommendations to the Commissioners
based on the weight of the evidence, testimony and any agreements that may have
The resulting document is called a Recommended Opinion and
Order. These recommendations can also include new and different terms under
which a case should be accepted or denied. The memo attached to the
Recommended Order generally also sets the date on which the Commissioners will
hear the matter in an Open Meeting.
parties may file exceptions to the Recommended Opinion and Order expressing
their changes to the document. The administrative law judge will allow enough
time between the release of his or her recommendations and the Open Meeting to
allow for exceptions to be filed.
Commissioners will take the matter under consideration in an Open Meeting.
Again, anyone who wishes to speak out on the matter will fill out a ‘speaker
slip’ indicating his or her desire to speak. Members of the public will be
given the opportunity to speak prior to the vote. Commissioners often call the
parties to the podium to answer questions about the case. Amendments may be
offered by the Commissioners or the parties. Votes are taken on each amendment
and then a vote is taken on the final document. The Commissioners have a host
of options at their disposal – they may accept, amend or deny the administrative
law judge’s recommendations but they can also send the matter back for further
may appeal Commission decisions but they must first file a Request for
The Commissioners are not obligated to reconsider their vote,
rather they have the option to bring the matter back to a subsequent Open
Meeting. If the Commissioners do not reconsider their votes, after a period
of time as determined by statute, the party opposing the Commission’s decision
may file an appeal in the appropriate court.