Projecting continued stability and downward movement in wholesale prices, Bellevue, WA-based Puget Sound Energy (PSE) proposed a 13% drop in its retail natural gas utility rates Thursday in a filing with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. PSE wants to make the rate cut effective Oct. 1. In a separate filing the utility also asked to lower a low-income surcharge.

For the gas cost adjustment, an average utility gas bill would drop by $11.27/month to about $82.12, the utility said in its filing.

The proposed rate reduction comes in response to the lower wholesale gas prices PSE has faced in recent months, said CEO Stephen Reynols. The decrease is part of the annual purchase gas adjustment (PGA) system that adjusts retail rates annually to account for the recent year’s experience buying gas.

“We’re pleased to be able to request this rate relief for our customers, especially as the winter heating season approaches,” Reynolds said. “Hopefully, current gas market conditions will continue into the latter part of 2008, and we will continue to pass along the savings next year.”

PSE also filed with Washington regulators to reduce the monthly charge to its customers that funds low-income assistance program. The utility proposed lowering the utility fees by 5 cents and 3 cents monthly for electric and gas customers, respectively.

The primary subsidiary of Puget Energy, PSE serves 721,000 natural gas customers and more than 1 million electric utility customers in the Puget Sound region of Washington state.

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