SPOKANE, Wash. — The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) approved rate increases for all four of the state's investor-owned, natural gas utilities Purchased Gas Cost Adjustments (PGAs) on Monday. This means Washingtonians will see higher rates on their natural gas bills.
WUTC said the rate increase was approved "to recover gas costs incurred due to higher nationwide wholesale gas prices."
The rate increases will go into effect on Tuesday, Nov. 1.
Susan Olson and her husband have lived in their home for more than 45 years.
Now with her children out of the house, Olson said the natural gas price hike won't affect her too much.
"It doesn't impact us but it might have when we first moved in," Olson said. "We've lived here 45 years so we had a young family and more young people are moving into this neighborhood so that might impact them, so I don't know."
Avista's customers consist of over 170,000 Spokane residents.
“We are aware that increasing natural gas rates when people are already facing inflation presents challenges for many Washingtonians,” UTC Chair Dave Danner said in a statement. “These increases are due to global events, and while we have been able to mitigate some of the impacts on customers, there is little we can do at the state level to avoid them. Our focus now is on ensuring customers have access to bill assistance, payment plans, and other options for managing higher gas prices.”
WUTC also approved mitigation plans submitted by Avista, Puget Sound Energy and Northwest Natural Gas. WUTC said these plans were approved to reduce the impact of higher natural gas bills.
"Gas customers struggling to pay their bills should contact their natural gas company about bill management options and assistance programs, as well as utility conservation and weatherization programs to help reduce gas usage and, thus, lower bills," WUTC said in a statement.
A spokesperson from the Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners says people should realize their bills aren't getting any cheaper, the WUTC reevaluates natural gas prices each year.
"Conservation education is pretty important. We want to learn how to keep our home warm for as long as we can. With plastics, with blankets, with adjusting your temperature. There's always people that are unhappy with it. I mean none of us like our bills to go up," said Carol Weltz, the director of community action at SNAP.
Below are the price increases customers can expect to see as of Nov. 1:
With the approved mitigation, Avista customers using an average of 109 therms during the winter months can expect an increase of 8.37% or $10.27 a month, resulting in an average monthly bill of $133.02.
Puget Sound Energy
With the approved mitigation plan, PSE customers using an average of 100 therms during the winter months can expect an increase of 12% or $13.36 a month, resulting in an average monthly bill of $125.
Northwest Natural Gas
With the approved mitigation plan, NW Natural customers using an average of 57 therms can expect an increase of 12.91% or $8.77 a month, resulting in an average monthly bill of $76.70.
Cascade Natural Gas
The typical Cascade residential customer using 54 therms a month will see an increase of 20% or $13.54, for an average monthly bill of $74.54.
Cascade did not include a mitigation plan with its PGA.
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