Cascade Natural gas rate goes up 19%

Loretto J. Hulse, Tri-City HeraldOctober 31, 2013 

The cost of natural gas is going up by 19 percent Nov. 1 for Cascade Natural Gas customers in Washington.

A residential customer using 54 therms a month can expect an increase of $8.43 on average per month, or approximately $101 for a 12-month period, according to a company media release issued in September.

A commercial customer using an average of 266 therms a month can expect an increase of $41.70 per month or about $500 for a 12-month period, the release said.

Cascade's corporate headquarters is in Kennewick. The company serves about 199,000 residential and commercial customers in 68 communities throughout the state, including the Tri-Cities and Yakima.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the rate adjustment request by Cascade and three other gas companies, which attributed the move to rising wholesale prices.

"The cost of gas makes up the largest segment of a customer's bill and is a straight pass-through cost to customers," said Scott Madison, Cascade's executive vice president and general manager. "Cascade does not make a return on the cost of gas.

"However, overall costs remain lower than just three years ago," Madison said.

Cascade spokesman Mark Hanson said gas companies adjust their rates up or down almost every year to account for projected wholesale prices and storage and transportation costs.

"Two years ago Cascade over-collected and this past year those customers received an adjustment to their bills," Hanson said. "That discount has run out, so they'll see an increase."

Today's rate increases will also affect customers of Puget Sound Energy, Avista in Eastern Washington and customers in southwest Washington of Portland-based Northwest Natural Gas.

About half of Washington's natural gas comes from Alberta and British Columbia and the rest from Rocky Mountain states.

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-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; lhulse@tricityherald.com

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