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State utility staff announce settlement proposal on Northwest Natural gas rates

Media Contact: (360) 664-1116 or media@utc.wa.gov

Docket number: UG-200994

Editor’s note: This news release reflects the position of energy staff of the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) and NOT the views of the three-member commission. It discusses an agreement that the commissioners have not yet reviewed. Any positions taken or comments offered by the commission staff regarding this proceeding should be attributed clearly to staff members and NOT to the UTC. 

LACEY, Wash. – Today, staff of the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) announced a multi-party agreement to settle a request from Northwest Natural Gas to increase natural gas rates in Washington.

The three-member commission, which is not bound by the agreement, will make a final decision on the utility’s revenue-increase request this fall. 

A virtual public hearing is scheduled Aug. 19 for customers to comment on the agreements.

The multi-year settlement calls for new rates to begin this year on Nov. 1, then increase again on Nov. 1, 2022. 

Year One

Under the terms of the proposed settlement agreement, Northwest Natural’s annual gas revenues would increase by $5 million, or 5.09%, beginning Nov. 1, 2021. This is a significant decrease compared to the company’s original request for a $6.3 million, or 8% revenue increase.

Under the agreement, a residential gas customer’s bill will increase by about 5% in November 2021. An average residential customer using 57 therms could see an increase of $2.89, for a monthly bill of $61.10. 

Year Two

In the second year of the multi-party agreement, Northwest Natural’s gas revenues would increase by $3 million, or 3.37%, beginning Nov. 1, 2022. This is also a decrease compared to the company’s original request for a $3.1 million, or 3.7% revenue increase.

Under this agreement, a residential natural gas customer’s bill will increase by about 3.4% in November 2022. An average residential customer using 57 therms could see an increase of $2.06, for a monthly bill of $63.16. 

In addition to the UTC staff and the company, the settlement agreement includes The Energy Project and the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers. Public Counsel did not sign the agreement, nor did they did oppose it.

Public comments

Northwest Natural Gas customers can attend the public comment meeting on Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. online, or by telephone at 253-372-2181, using conference ID: 380 447 245#. Those wishing to comment on the proposed settlement should sign up ahead of time by contacting the UTC at 360-664-1234.

Customers who are unable to attend the public meeting but wish to comment on the proposed settlement can:

  • file a comment online,
  • write to P.O. Box 47250 Olympia, Wash. 98504, 
  • comment@utc.wa.gov, or
  • call toll-free 1-888-333-9882. 

The commission has not received any public comments to date on Northwest Natural’s rate increase proposal.

Portland-based NW Natural provides natural gas service to about 84,200 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Southwest Washington. 

The UTC is the state agency that regulates private, investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in Washington. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.   

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Editor’s note: A copy of the proposed settlement can be found on the UTC’s website: www.utc.wa.gov/200994.

www.utc.wa.gov | @WAUTCwww.facebook.com/wautc

Topic(s)
Consumer
Energy