State regulators recommend smaller PSE rate increases
December 13, 2011
Puget Sound Energy is seeking to raise electric and gas rates next year, but state regulatory staffers recommended for the utility to only raise rates by a fraction of the amount PSE requested.
In testimony filed Dec. 7, Utilities and Transportation Commission staffers recommended for PSE to be allowed to raise electric rates by $39 million a year and $1.5 million for natural gas rates.
In June, PSE requested raising electric rates by $152 million and natural gas rates by $30 million.
The three-member Utilities and Transportation Commission is not bound by the staff recommendation. The commission is due to make a decision on the proposed rate increases in the spring after collecting public input.
Puget Sound Energy customers can comment on the proposed electric and natural gas rate increases by writing to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission at P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504. Customers can also submit comments at www.utc.wa.gov/ consumers/pages/ publiccommentform.aspx, by emailing email@example.com or by calling 1-888-333-9882 toll free. The deadline to submit comments is Feb. 17.
Customers can also comment at public meetings at 6 p.m. Feb. 1 at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E., and 6 p.m. Feb. 15 at commission headquarters, 1300 S. Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia.
The proposed increase is due to go into effect in May.
The commission is the state agency responsible for regulating the private electric companies in Washington.
Under the staff proposal, the average residential electric customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours per month could see a monthly increase of $2.05, for a bill of $98.84. The average natural gas customer using 68 therms per month could pay 13 cents more, for a bill of $81.72.
The differences between PSE’s request and the state regulatory staffers’ recommendation stem from reductions to develop a wind power project, incentive pay, federal income tax issues, profits, and costs related to power and storm damage.
Staffers also recommended for commissioners to reject PSE’s request for a Conservation Savings Adjustment to raise $7.4 million, or 0.4 percent for electric service, and $1.5 million, or 0.1 percent for natural gas service.
Bellevue-based PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and almost 750,000 natural gas customers in Western Washington, including Issaquah.