Washington UTC staff gives OK to Puget Sound Electric rate adjustment

Staff at the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) settled a request from Puget Sound Energy (PSE) to increase electric rates.

The multiparty settlement calls for a $65 million general revenue increase of $65.3 million. Consequently, the average residential electric customer’s bill would increase by about 2.9 percent. So, a residential customer using 900 kilowatt-hours could see an increase of $2.73 for a monthly bill of $98.30. The settlement represents a significant reduction from PSE’s request of $88 million.

Now the three-member commission, which is not bound by the staff settlement, will make a final decision on PSE’s power cost only rate case request by this summer. The new rates would begin after commission approval.

The revenue jump is based on significant increases in the cost of power supply since PSE’s 2019 general rate case. These cost hikes are due to increasing natural gas prices, rising costs for new and existing power purchase agreements, and escalating wholesale power prices. The settlement includes a $1.2 million increase in funding for PSE’s Home Energy Lifeline Program (HELP), which provides bill assistance for low-income customers. These additional funds would be available to customers on Oct. 1.

The parties to the full multiparty settlement are PSE, UTC staff, the Alliance of Western Energy Consumers (AWEC), and The Energy Project. The Public Counsel Unit of the Washington Office of the Attorney General are not part of it but do not oppose the settlement.

A virtual public hearing is scheduled for April 20.

Dave Kovaleski

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