The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission has forged a rate settlement with Bellevue, WA-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) and five stakeholders that could raise natural gas rates.

PSE last November filed a request to hike electric and gas rates a total of $40.6 million/year, including $18.9 million (0.9%) for electricity and $21.7 (2.9%) for gas utility customers.

The all-party settlement finalized last month allowed only the gas hike. Also agreeing to the settlement were the state Attorney General's Public Counsel Unit, the Alliance of Washington Energy Consumers, the Energy Project, the Federal Executive Agencies and Nucor Steel Co.

The settlement, if approved, would increase gas charges by $21.5 million, or nearly 3%, with an effective date of March 1. Typical residential customers would see an increase of $1.58 on monthly gas bills, which currently average slightly more than $60.

PSE's last general rate case was approved at the end of 2017 to increase electric rates 1% and decrease gas rates by 3.9%.

Regulators said they received more than 700 comments on the proposed rate increase, with more than 90% in opposition. A public hearing about the proposed settlement was scheduled for Tuesday (Feb. 5).