Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) retail rates for natural gas will increase Wednesday, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) forewarned PSE utility customers Monday. The state regulators earlier approved an 11.1% rate increase, following the utility’s filing of a purchased gas adjustment (PGA) request (see Daily GPI, Sept. 2).

The increase is supposed to cover Bellevue, WA-based PSE’s increased wholesale costs for natural gas to serve its 737,000 gas utility customers spread over six counties. The average monthly bill for the typical PSE residential customer will increase to a little more than $90/month, the WUTC said.

For residential customers the proposed gas cost adjustment would raise bills an average of 10.3%.

State regulators acknowledged that the new rates will put PSE gas customers back to the average level they were paying two years ago before a major rate decrease in the annual cost-of-gas adjustment last year. At that time PSE retail gas rates were lowered an average of 13%.

The WUTC-approved PGA mechanism allows the state’s gas utilities to periodically adjust rates to reflect changes in prices charged by gas producers and wholesale marketers. This process of cost recovery does not involve the utility’s profits as does a separate pending general rate case, for which PSE announced Aug. 22 a $179.4 million settlement (see Daily GPI, Aug. 26).

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