PSE asks to raise rates

Puget Sound Energy officials want to raise electric rates by about 4 percent, largely to recover costs associated with buying a power plant in central Washington.

The increase would affect 1 million residential and business customers, Puget Sound Energy spokesman Roger Thompson said.

If the increase is approved, a typical residential power bill will increase by 4.09 percent, or $3.17 per month, effective Sept. 1.

The proposed increase doesn't affect natural-gas rates, representatives of the Bellevue-based utility said.

Last month, the company completed its acquisition of a 277-megawatt power plant in Goldendale, paying $120 million for the two-year-old Goldendale Generating Station.

It is expected to narrow a projected gap between power supply a nd rising demand by 2015, Thompson said.

The company's rate-increase request has been filed and is subject to approval by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.

This type of request can take about five months to be approved, and a general rate increase can take up to a year, Thompson said.

A general rate increase request considers a utility's total costs, such as labor, equipment and taxes, he said.

Previous increases

Puget Sound Energy's most recent previous request for a power-rate increase was filed with the UTC in June 2005 and approved in November 2005, said UTC spokesman Tim Sweeney. It raised rates 4.4 percent, he said.

The company's most recent general rate increase took effect in January, resulting in a 2.8 percent increase in natural-gas costs, but electric rates decreased by 1.3 percent, Thompson said.

Rising energy costs are a concern for an agricultural company such as Ostrom's, a Lacey-based mushroom grower, Chief Operating Officer Christopher Street said.

Street said the company spends a lot of money on natural gas and electricity to heat and cool mushroom-growing rooms.

"We're always anticipating that (power rates) are going to go up and not down," Street said. "No doubt we will have our (public) comments."

Public comments

A date for a state Utilities and Transportation Commission public hearing has not been set, but Puget Sound Energy customers can send their comments to the state agency in the meantime.

Public comments should reference Docket No. 070565 and can be e-mailed to or mailed to P.O. Box 47250, 1300 S. Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, WA 98504.