PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire -08/31/12)- Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NWN), has filed a request with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC) for a rate reduction for its customers. As filed, Oregon residential rates would be reduced by about eight percent and commercial rates would be reduced by about nine percent.
"This rate reduction filing is in addition to the $35 million in gas cost savings that we passed back to Oregon customers on their June bills," said Gregg Kantor, NW Natural President and CEO. "Part of the reason for the lower prices is the surge of new domestic gas supplies. Last winter was also much warmer than usual, which helped reduce demand and keep prices lower."
Each year, NW Natural and other local gas companies adjust their rates to reflect changes in wholesale natural gas prices. This initial filing reflects gas purchases for the year beginning Nov. 1 as well as other small year-to-year changes. The company will submit a final filing to the OPUC in late October. Those numbers may change slightly from the current filing as the company locks in additional supplies for the upcoming heating season.
What rates can customers expect this winter?
Separate from this annual gas cost adjustment, NW Natural filed a general rate case in Oregon last December -- the first in nearly a decade. In it, the company asked regulators for about a 6 percent revenue increase. The request addresses increases in utility operating costs, such as maintaining pipelines, conducting inspections and making service calls to homes and businesses. Additionally, the company proposed a mechanism to address clean-up expenses related to legacy manufactured gas plant operations.
Overall the company expects the decline in natural gas prices mentioned above to offset any increase associated with the outcome of the general rate case. The end result for customers should be flat or slightly lower rates for the upcoming heating season.
Regulators will make a decision on the rate case by the end of October, with new rates effective Nov. 1, 2012. For more information about the general rate case, please visit the "Rates & Regulations" section of nwnatural.com.
About NW Natural
NW Natural (NWN) is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and provides natural gas service to about 681,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It is the largest independent natural gas utility in the Pacific Northwest. Additional information is available at www.nwnatural.com.