Cascade proposes utility increase

Published on Wed, Oct 2, 2013 by Brandy Kiger Shreve

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Cascade Natural Gas Corporation announced on September 27 that it has filed a Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA) request with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) for natural gas. 

If approved, the request will mean a 19 percent increase for Cascade customers in Washington. 

“The cost of gas, which includes pipeline, reservation and storage costs, is up slightly over last year,” said Scott Madison, executive vice president and general manager for Cascade. “The cost of gas makes up the largest segment of a customer’s bill and is a straight pass-through cost to customers. Cascade does not make a return on the cost of gas.”

Cascade Natural Gas is a natural gas distribution company serving approximately 260,000 residential, commercial, industrial and transportation customers in 96 communities in Washington and Oregon.

The request means that a residential customer using 54 therms a month can expect an increase of $8.43 on average per month, or approximately $101 for a 12-month period. A therm is equal to 100,000 British Thermal Units (BTUs) or 100 cubic feet (ccf). An average commercial customer using 266 therms a month can expect an increase of $41.70 per month or approximately $500 for a 12-month period.

“This is the time of year when Cascade looks back at what they projected gas prices would be for the year, and then trues up their numbers with the actual costs,” said Marilyn Meehan, a spokesperson for WUTC. 

“They’re aligning their numbers based on what they spent, and will then look into their crystal ball again to project what next year’s prices will be. It’s a process they go through every year.”  

A PGA is a mechanism designed to pass the actual costs of gas supplies to customers. 

It is common for companies to either under or over collect through the year as the natural gas market changes throughout the year. “If they charged too much, then there will be a refund,” Meehan said. “If they charged too little, then there’s a rate increase. It’s all about the actual cost of the gas. They aren’t allowed to make a profit from it.” 

The proposed rate increase is expected to go into effect on Friday, November 1 upon WUTC approval.

Customers can voice their opinions and concerns regarding the rate increase by emailing comment@utc.wa.gov  calling 888/333-9882 or by mail to P.O. Box 47250 Olympia, WA 98504.