Puget Sound Energy electric rates are going up just a month after natural gas prices increased.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on Nov. 24 approved a slight rate increase to go into effect Dec. 1 for customers. An average residential customer using 900 kWh per month will see a bill increase of $1.92 per month, or 2.1%, for a total monthly bill of $95.57.
The commission approved a hike in natural gas prices in October. The typical PSE residential customer using 64 therms a month will see an increase of 8.46% or $5.46 per month for an average monthly bill of $70.44, according to a commission news release. That rate hike began Nov. 1.
PSE’s unrecovered power costs of $39.5 million were eligible for recovery last July when the commission approved its annual power cost adjustment. However, the company chose not to pursue recovery at that time because of concern about the economic impact of the rate increase on customers during the COVID-19 pandemic. PSE recently requested the previously approved recovery, citing credit rating concerns and continued growth of the deferral balance that could lead to larger customer rate increases in the future if not recovered timely, according to a commission news release.
A power cost adjustment is a regulatory mechanism that allows companies to recover the difference between the actual cost of generating and purchasing electric energy and the authorized revenue from the sale of that energy. While the utility’s cost of generating and purchasing electric energy fluctuates constantly, under a power cost adjustment customer rates generally change only annually after the cost differences are determined. In the past, the difference has resulted in a credit to customer bills.
The commission received four public comments, all opposed to the rate increase.
Bellevue-based PSE provides electricity service to more than 1.1 million electric customers in eight Washington counties: Island, King, Kitsap, Kittitas, Pierce, Skagit, Thurston and Whatcom.
The Utilities Trade Commission is the state agency that regulates private, investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in Washington. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.