PSE raises residential electric rates statewide

Published on Wed, May 16, 2012 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers will see an increase in their energy bills next month after the Washington state utilities commission approved a rate increase effective May 14.

The Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), which authorizes utility rate increases across the state, has allowed PSE to raise electric rates by $63.3 million per year and natural gas rates $13.4 million per year, PSE spokesperson Dorothy Bracken said. The average PSE residential electric customer, using 1,000 kilowatts per month, will see his or her monthly bill increase by $3.30.

Last June, PSE officials submitted a rate increase request that would have brought in $161 million more in electric rates per year, Bracken explained. This request was meant to recoup PSE’s costs of improving utility infrastructure across the state and completing the Lower Snake River wind-power operation in southeast Washington.

However, reductions in natural gas prices since last June, specifically in Whatcom and Skagit counties, allowed PSE officials to ask for less in the most recent rate increases request. The approved electric rate increase is 60.7 percent lower than PSE’s original request.

“[The change in request] was due to the lower cost of producing power over the last 11 months,” Bracken said.

The rate increases come with a rate credit returned to PSE customers in 2012 stemming from the utility’s investment in renewable energy. For the average PSE customer, this will mean a rebate of  $1.18 per month, or $8.28 for the remainder of 2012.

This rebate means the average customer’s monthly bills for 2012 will increase by $2.73, Bracken explained. Bracken could not say if the rebate will extend beyond 2012.

PSE serves 6,800 customers with electric power in the Birch Bay area and 96,141 countywide. PSE’s Whatcom County customers are 8.7 percent of the utility’s 1.1 million electric customers across Washington.