My natural gas bill increased 26% : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

I live in Glenwood Springs, CO and I'm serviced by Kinder & Morgan. The price per cubic foot went from $.34 to $.43. The clever little B@st@ards also hid the information in the formula for the increase. I found this out by calling them. Absolutely nothing about this hike in our papers either. 26%!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This is going to devastate all those who rely on natural gas for heating this winter.

-- Guy Daley (, August 01, 2000


Local paper here in the Seattle area reports an increase of 27.5 percent this morning. Will post article when I find it.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 01, 2000.

Just called my Propane provider. $1.15/gal.
Good news, I'm filling up.

-- spider (, August 01, 2000.

Tuesday, August 1, 2000, 12:00 a.m. Pacific

Natural gas will cost more

by Hunter T. George The Associated Press OLYMPIA - State regulators yesterday said goodbye to the days of low- cost natural gas and approved big rate increases requested by power companies coping with higher wholesale prices.

Of Washington's residential customers, the ones who get their gas from Puget Sound Energy will pay the most: a 27.5 percent increase for the average household, amounting to $13.23 more a month.

Residential customers of Northwest Natural Gas will see their rates go up nearly 22 percent, or $9.11 a month. And Cascade Natural Gas customers will get a nearly 16 percent increase that will boost monthly bills by $6.90.

The higher rates were unanimously approved by the three-member state Utilities and Transportation Commission and took effect today.

The three companies requested dramatic rate increases in late June as wholesale prices skyrocketed.

They filed under a "purchase gas adjustment" procedure, or PGA, that allows them to pass along the actual costs of natural gas directly to consumers. The companies are not allowed to include any profit when adjusting rates to reflect higher gas costs.

Wholesale prices have since come down, but they are still higher than they were in early May.

Jim Lazar, who represents consumers via the attorney general's public- counsel division, questioned the need for such big rate increases. Consumers could end up paying much more than they need to since the companies filed their requests at a time when wholesale prices were at their peak, he said.

And even if the high rates are indeed necessary, he said, consumers should not have to bear the burden all at once. He urged the commission to halve the rate increases so that Puget Sound Energy's customers, for example, would pay about 13 percent more this year and then slightly more than 13 percent next year.

Regulators lamented the "rate shock" that consumers will experience when the higher costs show up on their bills later this summer.

But they rejected Lazar's request, saying consumers would have to pay interest on the deferred portion. If wholesale prices experience another spike, the impact could be far greater than just dealing with it all at once.

Karl Karzman of Puget Sound Energy said the company will monitor prices over the next few months and support a rate reduction if the price projections turn out to be wrong.

Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Showalter said the price advantage that Washington consumers used to enjoy over the rest of the country due to the proximity to Canadian supplies has been eliminated with the opening of a new pipeline from the province of Alberta to Chicago. Prices also have apparently been influenced by an increased demand for natural gas to produce electricity, she said.

Puget Sound Energy, which serves 602,000 customers through the Seattle area, asked for $142.6 million in increased revenues. Commercial and industrial users will see an increase of 32 percent a month, while large-volume customers will get a 44 percent increase.

Northwest Natural Gas, which serves 38,000 customers in the Vancouver, Wash., area, said it needs $7 million in additional revenues to cover higher costs. The result, a 32 percent increase for average commercial and industrial customers.

Cascade, which serves 140,000 customers in such areas as Bellingham, Bremerton, Yakima and Walla Walla, asked for $20.5 million in higher revenues. Its commercial customers will experience an 18 percent increase and industrial customers a 21 percent increase. ml

-- Martin Thompson (, August 01, 2000.

August 2, 2000

Avista seeks 28 percent hike in gas rate Utility blames increase on surge in wholesale prices

Bert Caldwell - Staff writer

Avista Utilities has asked Washington regulators for a natural gas rate hike that would boost homeowners' bills 28 percent, or about $10.95 per month.

The request, filed late last week, matches one filed in Idaho on Friday.

The average monthly bill for a Washington residential customer using 77 therms of gas would increase to $49.78.

Avista would not earn additional profits from the increase, which reflects a recent surge in wholesale gas prices.

"This is not a request by the company to make more money," said Tim Sweeney, a spokesman for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission.

"This is the trickle-down effect of paying more for natural gas."

The commission approved rate increases Monday for three other gas utilities in the state dealing with similar market conditions.

Residential customers of Cascade Natural Gas will pay 16 percent more; Northwest Natural Gas customers, 22 percent more; and those of Puget Sound Energy, 27.5 percent more.

Industrial customers of those utilities will pay as much as 40 percent more. Avista's large customers also face bigger boosts because their base rates have been lower.

"This is painful news for folks," said Sweeney, who noted the trend is the same for other energy commodities, such as electricity and gasoline.

Jim Lazar, who testifies before the commission on behalf of consumers, said natural gas prices have risen in step with demand created by new turbines that burn natural gas to generate electricity.

If all the plants were built that are planned or for which permits have been issued in the state of Washington, he said, gas consumption would double.

"Gas markets don't respond quickly or kindly to that kind of change in demand," Lazar said.

Commission Chairwoman Marilyn Showalter said prices in the Northwest also have been under pressure because suppliers in Canada, who have access to new pipelines, are selling more gas in the Midwest.

Lazar said consumers will have to combat the increases with conservation. Home owners should hang storm windows, install weather stripping and tune up furnaces to reduce gas consumption, he said.

Asked if those who have switched to gas heat with Avista's encouragement had made a mistake, Lazar said no.

If residential furnaces were not burning gas at 80 percent efficiency for space heating, utilities would be feeding the fuel to turbines that are only 50 percent efficient, he said.

"The problem would be even worse," Lazar said.

At the Spokane Neighborhood Action Program, which provides housing and heating assistance to low-income residents, Don Andre said the proposed rate hike will make a bad situation worse.

The agency has a backlog of 1,500 requests for weatherization, more than half of those from clients using natural gas for heat, he said.

And if SNAP increases aid to clients to help them pay their energy bills, Andre said, fewer will get help unless more money is provided by state and federal governments.

About 5,000 clients received assistance last year, he said.

Andre, who heads SNAP's housing improvement program, said the agency has asked Avista to renew its support for weatherization programs, which was discontinued when gas was a cheaper source of energy for the utility than conservation.

"Gas has been too low for that equation to work," he said.

Avista spokesman Steve Becker stressed that despite the huge rate increase, gas prices will be no higher than they were in 1983.

The company has asked the state to approve its request by Sept. 1.

A ruling on a second general natural gas rate increase is likely later that month. That proposal would add another 7.5 percent to residential bills.

The boost would cover investments in Avista's gas distribution system made over the last decade and provide for a higher rate of return on that investment.

An electricity rate hike also is pending. date=080200&ID=s833683&cat=section.Spokane

-- Martin Thompson (, August 02, 2000.

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