Gas heating bills will be going down, state agency says

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission said Thursday that nearly 2 million natural gas customers in the state can expect to see lower heating bills this winter due to a decrease in wholesale natural gas costs. 

The three-person commission -- the state agency in charge of regulating the private, investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities -- approved requests Thursday by the state’s four investor-owned natural gas companies to reduce rates for customers beginning Nov. 1. 

Natural gas companies in Washington are required to adjust rates periodically to reflect changes in wholesale prices.

The commission said Puget Sound Energy’s average Western Washington residential natural gas customer using 68 therms a month will realize a drop of 7.1 percent, or $5.82, to $76.59. 

Cascade Natural Gas Co.’s average residential customer will see a reduction of almost 6.5 percent. For a customer who uses 57 therms the savings will be about $4 a month. 

Avista’s typical Eastern Washington residential customer using 68 therms will see a drop of 4.3 percent, or $2.58 a month, for a revised bill of $58.18. 

The average residential customer of southwest Washington’s Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NWNG) using 55 therms will see a savings of about 7.7 percent, or $4.82 a month. 

About half of Washington’s natural gas supplies come from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, the commission said, and the other half come from Rocky Mountain production sites such as Wyoming. 

Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy serves more than 785,000 natural gas customers in parts of Snohomish, King, Pierce, Lewis, Thurston and Kittitas counties. 

Kennewick-based Cascade Natural Gas Corp. serves about 195,000 residential and business customers in 65 communities throughout the state, including Bellingham, Bremerton, Mount Vernon, Aberdeen, Longview, Moses Lake, Kennewick, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima. 

Spokane-based Avista serves more than 149,000 natural gas customers, primarily in Eastern Washington. 

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., NWNG serves 70,746 residential and business customers in Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington state.