The Regulatory Commission of Alaska (RCA) opened a formal docket of investigation into the decision of Chugach Electric Association (Chugach Electric) regarding its credit card payment program.  In Order U-08-105(1), the RCA required Chugach Electric to delay implementation of any change to its existing Autopay by credit card program pending RCA review.

In June 2008, Chugach Electric announced to its customers that starting September 1, 2008, it would no longer accept credit or debit card payments directly.  Instead, members may choose to make credit card payments through Bill Matrix and pay a $3.50 transaction fee.  Chugach Electric stated that it pays over $800,000 per year to take credit card payments.   Shortly after its announcement, the RCA received informal complaints from customers opposing the credit card transaction fee.

The RCA has authority to investigate this matter under AS 42.05.391 to determine:  (1) whether the charges are discriminatory; (2) whether the program and attendant charges are reasonable, and (3) whether there is any adverse effect in rates in light of the established revenue requirement.  The RCA has not received any tariff advice filing from Chugach Electric reflecting the proposed changes to its tariff.  In the absence of a tariff advice filing which would provide Chugach Electric an opportunity to submit evidence in support of its proposed change in policy and the past practice of accepting credit card payments, the RCA is investigating this matter to address issues raised by consumer complaints.

As part of the investigation, Chugach Electric is required to file documentation of the expenses incurred on an annual basis since 2004 in connection with its Autopay credit card program and a detailed explanation how its revenue requirement will be affected by the proposed changes in its credit card policy.

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Date Issued: 8/29/2008