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Public hearing this week in Olympia to discuss PSE rate increases for electricity and natural gas

Post by C.R. Roberts / The News Tribune on May 13, 2013 at 6:46 am with No Comments »
May 10, 2013 2:50 pm

Staff at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission have invited electric and natural gas customers of Puget Sound Energy to offer state regulators comments on the utility’s proposed multi-year rate plan and electric “decoupling.”

Comments will be received at a public hearing on May 16 in Olympia. The hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 16, at the UTC at 1300 S. Evergreen Park Dr. S.W.

Commission staff members have reached a multi-party settlement agreement on a four-year plan concerning PSE’s request to increase electric and natural gas rates, according to a staff release.

The proposal includes a mechanism for “decoupling” the company’s revenues from how much electricity the customer uses, the release said.

The three-member commission, which is not bound by the staff recommendation, will make a final decision on the utility’s rate request this spring. The agreement could become effective as early as July 1.

PSE and the commission staff calculated that if the settlement agreement is approved by the commission, a residential electric customer using an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours-a-month would pay 3.4 percent, or $3.29, more each month for service. A residential natural gas customer using an average of 68 therms per month would see a 1.7 percent, or $1.33, increase in their monthly gas bill.

In each of the subsequent years of the settlement agreement, PSE electric and natural gas customers would see about a 1 percent average annual increase in rates at least through 2015.

Under the terms of the settlement agreement, PSE annual electric revenues would increase $53.1 million or 2.6 percent and annual natural gas revenues would rise by $9.6 million or 1.0 percent.

A provision in the settlement agreement states PSE cannot file for further rate increases before April 1, 2015.

The commission has received 80 public comments to date on the PSE rate increase proposal – 78 opposed and two undecided.

In addition to the UTC staff and the company, three other parties, including the NW Energy Coalition, Northwest Industrial Gas Users and The Energy Project, signed the settlement agreement, the release stated.

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