Natural gas rate hike OK’d

Natural gas customers in Snohomish County will see their monthly bills jump by more than $7 a month starting Sunday, following the Utilities and Transportation Commission’s approval Wednesday of a rate hike.

Puget Sound Energy argued the increase was necessary to cover the rising wholesale cost of natural gas, though spot prices for the fuel have fluctuated up and down during 2006.

With the state regulators’ approval, the average residential gas customer’s bill will rise by 8.8 percent, or $7.26 a month, according to PSE.

That brings the gas bill for the average household – using about 60 therms a month – to $90.29, when equalized over the year. Commercial customers generally will see larger increases, PSE said.

Because the cost of the fuel has risen repeatedly in recent years, it now accounts for 70 percent of the average customer’s bill, while PSE’s charge for delivering the gas makes up the rest. This week’s rate adjustment marks the fourth consecutive year PSE has asked for an increase to cover higher gas costs, according to the utilities commission.

Last year at this time, the gas company received permission to raise its rates by 13 percent, or about $11 a month, as natural gas prices spiked in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

The utility has asked the state to allow for a larger permanent rate increase, which is being reviewed by state regulators.

So far, Cascade Natural Gas, which serves northern Snohomish County, has not asked for a rate adjustment this season.

On Wednesday, natural gas futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange plunged to their lowest level since December 2002. The 7 percent decline in natural gas futures reflects record levels of stored reserves, due to last year’s relatively mild winter.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Reporter Eric Fetters: 425-339-3453 or

More in Herald Business Journal

Happy accident leads Edmonds couple to make Hunniwater drink

The latest line of energy drinks by Karin and Eric… Continue reading

Single payer is no panacea for our costly health care system

We must address the cost of health care before designing an insurance system.

Voters are on the sidelines as the port fills a vacant seat

Troy McClelland resigned from the Port of Everett commission too late for an election before 2019.

Career Fair planned next week at Tulalip Resort Casino

The Snohomish County Career Fair is planned from 10 a.m. to 2… Continue reading

American Farmland Trust president to speak in Mount Vernon

American Farmland Trust President John Piotti plans to give a talk about… Continue reading

In new setback, Uber to lose license to work in London

The company, beset by litany of scandals, was told it was not “fit and proper” to keep operating there.

Not home? Walmart wants to walk in and stock your fridge

The retailer is trying out the service with tech-savvy shoppers who have internet-connected locks.

Trade panel: Cheap imports hurt US solar industry

The ruling raises the possibility of tariffs that could double the price of solar panels.

Agent joins Re/Max in Smokey Point

Dennis Roland joined the Re/Max Elite Smokey Point office. The Navy veteran… Continue reading

Most Read