Electric and natural gas costs for residential customers of Puget Sound Energy will increase, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission announced Friday.
The commission approved Puget Sound Energy’s request to raise the average electric customer’s rates by about 1 percent a year, about half of the revised amount the company requested. Natural gas rates will increase by about 3.2 percent, less than the 5.3 percent the company had sought.
The average residential electricity customer will see an increase of about 80 cents a month in addition to an increase of about 6 cents in the basic monthly service charge, from $5.75 to about $5.81. Natural gas customers will pay about $2.84 more a month, which includes a $2 increase in the monthly customer-service charge, from $6.25 to $8.25. The commission rejected PSE’s proposed $17-a.m.onth natural-gas service charge.
“We find that PSE’s proposed increase to the residential customer charge is simply too much change, too fast, from a customer perspective,” the commissioners said in their written order.
The new rates will take effect by mid-January, said commission spokeswoman Marilyn Meehan.
The increases do not include any expenses the company incurred restoring its electrical system during the December windstorm.
The company said the increase was needed for a new wind-farm project in Central Washington (Wild Horse Wind), a long-term contract to buy power supplies from Chelan County PUD, the installation of new generators for the Baker River Hydroelectric project and more capacity in several natural gas transmission pipes.
The commission also agreed to $1.75 million in additional money for energy programs benefiting Puget’s low-income customers.
The commission turned down the utility’s “decoupling” natural-gas proposal that would have removed some barriers for the company in setting future rates.
PSE will be allowed to set up a performance-incentive plan based on the energy savings of the company’s electricity conservation programs.
The company will earn an incentive payment if its conservation programs achieve or exceed savings above an agreed target. The three-year pilot project runs from Jan. 1, 2007, to Dec. 31, 2009.
Bellevue-based PSE, the state’s largest electric utility, provides electricity to more than 1 million customers in King, Pierce, Jefferson, Island, Kitsap, Skagit, Whatcom, Thurston and Kittitas counties. The company also serves more than 700,000 natural-gas customers in King, Snohomish, Thurston, Lewis, Kittitas and Pierce counties.
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