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Oregon regulators on Tuesday increased retail natural gas rates due to higher commodity costs for the state's three investor-owned gas distributors -- NW Natural Gas, Avista Utilities and Cascade Natural Gas -- effective Saturday (Nov. 1). The largest increases approved by the Oregon Public Utility Commission will be imposed on industrial customers, ranging up to 13.4% for Avista's largest customers. The state's largest gas distributor, NW Natural, will increase rates overall by $23 million, or 3.4% (10.4% for industrials); for Avista, the increase totals $7.73 million, or 8.3%; and Cascade will have a $543,000 increase, or 0.86% (3.7% for industrials). The state's gas supplies come from suppliers in western Canada and the U.S. Rockies.

American Electric Power, which owns seven regional electric utilities across 11 states, is getting a boost from onshore oil and gas development. The Columbus, OH-based company reported a profit of $493 million ($1.01/share) for the third quarter. "We continue to see economic improvement in the states where we operate, primarily in areas with shale gas operations," said CEO Nicholas Akins. AEP revenues have increased from $4.2 to $4.3 billion over the last year, while four states with heavy shale development are driving growth and profits, including Ohio, Oklahoma, West Virginia and Texas. Temporary power, compression and separation units are all in high-demand in these service areas. The third quarter was the company's fourth consecutive period of industrial sales growth and its fifth consecutive for commercial sales growth.

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