Prior to making the annual October adjustment in retail natural gas utility rates to reflect past and future wholesale commodity prices for the state’s three private-sector gas utilities, the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) will hold its annual Natural Gas Outlook workshop Thursday at its headquarters in Salem, OR. Utility officials, PUC staff, the regional gas association and proponents of liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in the state will made presentations.

Under the title for this year’s session of “Uncertainty and Volatility,” the Oregon regulatory panel’s natural gas staff expert will give an overview of the outlooks for this summer and next winter, 2006-07, followed by a panel of utility representatives from Northwest Natural Gas Co. Avista Utilities, and Cascade Natural Gas, which collectively serve 630,000 customers in the state. The utility managers will give views on supply, demand and price through the winter.

A regional view will be given by the Northwest Gas Association’s, comparing Pacific Northwest gas demand, supply and price to the United States as a whole; pipeline/storage issues will be briefly covered by the PUC staff gas expert, and the meeting will conclude with a panel of representatives for three of the LNG projects proposed along the Pacific Coast and on the Oregon side of the Columbia River.

Following the session the three-member state regulatory commission will decide under the purchased gas adjustment (PGA) process whether a given utility raises or lowers its rates to cover the estimated costs of wholesale gas supplies. The adjustment accounts for the differences between forecasted gas costs in the previous 12-month period and the actual costs incurred during that time.

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