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Cascade Natural Gas rates may see short-term decrease, boost in 2021

Cascade Natural Gas rates may see short-term decrease, boost in 2021

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Cascade Natural Gas this week proposed an adjustment to annual rates that could save most customers about 50 cents per month in the short-term. But a boost to bills could be headed down the pipeline next spring.

The Kennewick-based utility company has filed two rate change proposals with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.

The first proposal is the company’s annual filing, which adjusts rates to address changes in overall gas costs, said Mike Parvinen, director for regulatory affairs. The proposal suggests dropping residential rates by about 48 cents per month for the average customer using 56 therms of gas. If approved, it would take effect in November.

The proposal reviews the expected price for gas, the anticipated volume customers will use, a “cost recovery” plan for pipeline replacements and two federal tax changes.

It also provides a refund for customers for last year’s bills because “it was a little bit colder, so our sales were higher” and the company made more money than expected, Parvinen said.

“The net impact of all those filings this year is a small decrease,” he said.

The second proposal is a general rate case, which reviews revenues, expenses and investments to determine whether current rates sufficiently cover the company’s actual operating costs, he said. Cascade is asking the UTC to increase the company’s annual revenue by $13.8 million a year, so it can recover the costs of updating old pipelines, as well as increased operation and maintenance costs.

If it is approved, it would take effect March 2021 and increase monthly bills for the average residential customer by about $2.86, or 5.3%.

The UTC has several months to consider the rate case, and customers can submit public comment on the matter online at https://www.utc.wa.gov/consumers/Pages/publicComment.aspx

Cascade Natural Gas serves almost 220,000 customers in 68 communities throughout the state, including about 2,200 customers in Longview. It is regulated by the UTC, a state agency that ensures regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates.

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