VANCOUVER -- The Attorney General’s Public Counsel Section, which represents the public in utility rate cases, wants NW Natural customers to tell state decision-makers what they think about the company’s proposal to raise rates.
Monthly bills now arriving in the mail will include a notice with details of the proposed increase, as well as a detachable comment form for customers to use to share their opinions with state regulators. Customers also have a chance to speak out during public hearing in Vancouver on November 13.
Portland-based NW Natural wants to raise rates for its approximately 65,000 customers in three Washington counties bordering the Columbia River.
In March 2008, NW Natural filed a request with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission to take in an additional $4.3 million from natural gas customers in Washington. The company proposed new usage rates and requested to raise the monthly customer charge, which all customers pay regardless of how much gas they use, from $5 to $12. If approved, average residential customers would see a nearly 6.3 percent increase in their monthly bills.
NW Natural also wants to adopt “revenue decoupling.” Decoupling allows utilities to pass along a surcharge to customers to make up for lost revenue that results when customers use less energy. Public Counsel Section Chief Simon ffitch said the company’s overall revenue is expanding due to growth in its service territory.
“If NW Natural introduces revenue decoupling, customers who conserve energy could end up paying a surcharge,” ffitch said. “We also oppose NW Natural’s request to increase the fixed monthly charge by 140 percent. This penalizes low-volume users.”
NW Natural customers have the opportunity to address the UTC at a public comment hearing in Vancouver:
- November 13 – 6 p.m.
Clark Public Utilities – Electric Center
1200 Fort Vancouver Way
Customers can also submit comments to the UTC in these forms:
- E-mail: email@example.com
- Phone: 1-800-562-6150
- Write to: Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission, P.O. Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504-7250. Mention Docket No. 080546.
Details about the company’s proposed rate changes are online at www.utc.wa.gov. Enter 080546 in the docket lookup field.
The Public Counsel Section advocates for the interests of consumers on major rate cases, mergers and other rulemakings before the UTC. Public Counsel also advocates for consumers in court appeals, through technical study groups and before the Legislature and other policy makers. The office maintains contact with the public through a citizen advisory committee, community organizations, public hearings and personal contact with consumers in major cases. More information about Public Counsel’s work is available online atwww.atg.wa.gov/utilities.aspx.
Media Contacts: Kristin Alexander, Media Relations Manager - Seattle, (206) 464-6432
Simon ffitch, Public Counsel Section Chief, (206) 389-2055
Editor’s Note: The spelling of Simon ffitch is correct – the surname begins with two lowercase f’s.