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Oregon natural gas rates to decline this winter

PUC approves new rates reflecting price changes

SALEM, Ore. - It will cost Oregonians a little less to heat homes or operate businesses with natural gas this winter.
The Public Utility Commission of Oregon approved new rates Thursday, to take effect beginning Nov. 1,  to reflect changes in commodity natural gas prices and other non-gas costs.

"Natural gas rates are going down in Oregon for the customers of all three regulated natural gas utilities," said Lisa Hardie, PUC chair. "The rate reduction in the weighted average cost of gas is generally the result of the continued abundance in natural gas supply."

The PUC approves adjustments to each of the company's rates once a year to reflect the actual cost of the wholesale price of natural gas. This allows natural gas companies to pass through their actual cost of purchasing gas to ratepayers, which does not include a markup of the price.

However, other non-gas cost filings are also submitted by each company. The implementation of both gas cost and non-gas cost related-rates on November 1, reduces the number of rate changes natural gas customers will experience throughout the year. The combined impact for each company is shown, below.

NW Natural - An overall decrease of $41.15 million, or 6.4 percent

*         Residential                  6.4   percent rate reduction

*         Commercial                7.3   percent rate reduction

*         Industrial                     8.1   percent rate reduction

With these changes, the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 50 therms per month will decrease by $3.43, or -6.4 percent, from $53.36 to $49.93.

Avista Utilities - An overall decrease of $1.575 million, or 1.7 percent

*         Residential                  2.1  percent rate reduction

*         Commercial                2.3  percent rate reduction

*         Industrial                     3.8  percent rate reduction

With these changes, the monthly bill of a residential customer using an average of 46 therms per month will decrease by $1.00, or -1.8 percent, from $56.18 to $55.18.

Cascade Natural Gas - An overall decrease of $2.6 million, or 4.07 percent

*         Residential                  5.65 percent rate reduction

*         Commercial                6.46 percent rate reduction

*         Industrial                     7.4   percent rate increase

With these changes, the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 60 therms per month will decrease by $2.47, or -5.2 percent, from $47.69 to $45.22.

NW Natural serves 730,000 customers throughout Oregon. Avista Utilities serves portions of southwest and northeastern Oregon, while Cascade Natural Gas serves Central Oregon in the Bend region and parts of Northeast Oregon.

Customers can reduce natural gas bills by:

*         Turning down thermostats to save up to 3 percent for each degree. A programmable thermostat that reduces heat at night or when no one is home can lower heating bills by 5 to 10 percent.

*         Update low-efficiency furnaces and water heaters with higher-efficiency models.

*         Fully insulate homes to realize up to 30 percent savings on a heating bill.

*         Clean or change furnace filters once a month during the heating season.

*         Customers of NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas may arrange for an energy audit through the Energy Trust of Oregon https://www.energytrust.org/. Avista Utilities customers may request a traditional energy audit from Avista.

*         And lastly, customers should ask about bill payment assistance from their natural gas service provider.

The Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state's investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies.  The PUC mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates, which is accomplished thorough analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process.


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