Hike in natural gas rates OK'd by state

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WALLA WALLA — Gas rates will be heating up starting Friday.

More than 1.2 million natural gas customers across the state — including customers of Kennewick-based Cascade Natural Gas in the Walla Walla Valley — will pay more for their service starting November, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission reported Wednesday.

The rate increase is generated by a rise in wholesale natural gas costs, according to a news release.

The state commission also attributed part of Cascade’s increase to the end of a yearlong refund. Past over-collection by Cascade led the company to reduce its bills over the last 12 months.

The rate rise also effects customers of Puget Sound Energy in Western Washington, Avista residential customers in Spokane and other Eastern Washington communities, and southwest Washington’s Northwest Natural Gas Co.

The average residential customer of Cascade Natural Gas will see an 18 percent hike in cost. That’s an increase of $8.50 per month for a residential customer using 54 therms. At that rate the total monthly bill will be almost $54.

Cascade Natural Gas serves almost 200,000 residential and business customers in 65 communities throughout the state.

The increases by all four of the state’s natural gas utility companies was approved by the UTC on Wednesday.

The companies submit Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment filings each year to adjust rates for the constantly changing cost of natural gas in the wholesale market, the announcement said.

The job of the three-member UTC is to regulate private investor-owned utilities and ensure companies provide safe and reliable services at reasonable rates while allowing the companies to earn a profit.

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