State regulators approve rate plan for Puget Sound Energy

June 25, 2013 

State regulators approved a multiyear rate plan for Puget Sound Energy on Tuesday that is set to raise electric and gas rates July 1, even though many were opposed to the plan.

Prior to approval, the state Utilities and Transportation Commission — the agency in charge of regulating private utilities — received 215 public comments about PSE’s proposed rate increase.

Of those comments, 201 were opposed, three were in favor and 11 were undecided, according to a UTC news release.

Although the UTC approved the rate plan, it limits increases in the next three to four years and establishes a mechanism called “decoupling,” in which utility profits are “decoupled” from sales.

By July 1, PSE will raise residential electric rates by 3.34 percent and natural gas rates by 1.55 percent.

According to the plan, a residential customer who uses 1,000 kilowatt hours per month will see a bill increase $3.24 for a total of $100.33. A natural gas customer using 68 therms per month will pay $1.28 more for a total of $77.89.

Following the first year, the company “may increase rates a maximum of 3 percent of PSE’s annual revenue with any excess amounts above the 3 percent recovered the following year,” according to a news release.

UTC officials said future increases are expected to be lower than in past years, and limiting increases is expected to provide PSE with incentives to cut costs.

The “decoupling” mechanism is expected to remove “the company’s financial disincentive to invest in conservation and energy efficiency,” according to a news release.

rboone@theolympian.com

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