US utilities seek gas pass-through increases

With natural gas prices nearly double those of a year ago, two Washington utilities, Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Puget Sound Energy Inc., said they have filed requests with state regulators for pass-through increases to customers.


With natural gas prices nearly double those of a year ago, two Washington utilities have filed requests with state regulators for pass-through increases to customers.

Cascade Natural Gas Corp., Seattle, and Puget Energy Inc. said they have filed applications for a purchased gas cost adjustments (PGA) with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Cascade said its application, the first since 1994, reflects natural gas price increases paid to natural gas producers by the company on behalf of its Washington customers.

In a separate application that also affects customer rates, Cascade has filed to begin passing back to customers credits that have been deferred since Aug. 1, 1996. The resulting decrease will help offset the impact of the increase in the wholesale cost of gas.

If these applications are approved as filed, the average Cascade residential customer in Washington, who uses natural gas for space and water heating, will experience an average $5.62/month increase in the cost of natural gas beginning Aug.1, 2000, the company said.

Puget Sound Energy Inc., Bellevue, Wash., said it also filed a request with state regulators to pass through the rising costs of natural gas purchased for customers under the PGA mechanism. The request seeks an increase of 16.7�/therm for industrial, commercial, and residential customers.

With the adjustment, requested to go into effect Aug. 1, 2000, the average household natural gas bill for Puget Sound Energy customers would go up about $13/month, to $64.

The US Energy Information Administration of the US Department of Energy estimates wholesale natural gas prices nationwide will be up 50% this summer and 60% higher this heating season, compared to the same period in 1999. The company said the commission is expected to make a decision by July 31.

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