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Public Input Sought On Puget Sound Energy's Proposed Electricity Rate Increase

Paula Wissel

Puget Sound Energy wants to raise electricity rates by 4.1 percent and lower natural gas rates  by 2.4 percent. The Washignton Utilities and Transportation Commission has to approve the request and is holding hearings this week. A public comment hearing will be held on Thursday, August 31,  at 6 p.m. at UTC headquarters, 1300 Evergreen Park Dr. SW in Olympia.

Puget Sound energy spokesman Grant Ringel says the rate increase being requested is reasonable.

“This is a very modest increase. We haven’t had a rate change since 2011, so our base rates have been very stable,” Ringel said.

The regulatory commission is looking at the evidence this week to decide whether to reject or approve the request. Commission staffers have recommended against the rate hike saying the company should also lower its natural gas rates more than 2.4 percent.

A big issue in all of this is the future closure of Puget Sound Energy’s coal plant in Colstrip, Montana. Some environmentalists say the company should shut down all units of the plant sooner than the company’s 2035 timeline.

Others say ratepayers are being asked to pay too much in upfront costs of the power plant closure.

The Commission will decide on the rate request in November. If approved, rates could go up for 1.7 million electricity customers in Washington.

So far, of about 250 written comments the Commission has received on the rate hike request, 230 have been negative.

Paula reports on groundbreaking legal decisions in Washington State and on trends in crime and law enforcement. She’s been at KNKX since 1989 and has covered the Law and Justice beat for the past 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.
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