State regulators recommend smaller PSE rate increases

December 13, 2011

By Staff

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.

Get involved

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 comment@utc.wa.gov 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.

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Comments

One Response to “State regulators recommend smaller PSE rate increases”

  1. Jose Roman on February 2nd, 2012 8:33 am

    Utilities and Transportation Commission need to consider the recent rate hikes allowed. I am sure that most rate hikes are introduced with the proposal of improving the infrastructure and reducing the possibility of a power outage. That has not been the case. Consumers should not be paying over and over for the lack of commitment to the consumer. Every time we have a storm we are expected to pay for damages and restoration of power by increasing our rates. This should not be the case. Most consumers are not getting reimbursed for lost goods in refrigerators and freezers due to lack of power. Most consumers did not complain about the inevitable. Instead we endured and became better prepared for the next storm. There is a risk associated with owning a power utility company. The consumers should not have to bear the burden of ineffective operations at a utility company. I am sure that if they work on the systems prior to the storm the systems would weather the storms better. Instead they show record profit with no thought of improving the power grids. The focus is the investor not the consumer. I hope the commission considers the consumer this time. People are losing there homes, cannot find work and the last thing they need is a balloon increase in the utility bill that they are struggling to pay as it is. Strongly consider your decision.

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