NW Natural gas eyes $4 million credit for Wash. customers



Northwest Natural Gas Co. said Monday that it has filed a request with the Washington Utility and Transportation Commission to provide $4 million in credit to its Washington customers because of lower-than-expected costs for wholesale natural gas.

The Portland-based utility also is asking the Oregon Public Utility Commission to approve about $35 million in credits to its Oregon customers.

If approved by the two regulatory bodies, the refunds would be based on gas cost savings between Nov. 1, 2011, and March 31, 2012. The savings would show up as a credit to residential, commercial and industrial sales customers on their June bills.

In Washington, an average residential customer uses 97 therms per month from November through March and can expect a credit of about $44; an average commercial customer using 394 therms during that same period can expect a credit of about $179, the utility said. In Clark County, NW Natural has 64,958 residential customers and 5,594 commercial customers.

“The natural gas prices we’ve secured in the last several months are substantially lower than what is currently set in our rates. The continued decline in natural gas prices has been dramatic, and we’re pleased to be able to get those savings back to customers earlier than our annual gas cost adjustment this fall,” said Gregg Kantor, NW Natural president and CEO.

In October, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a request by Northwest Natural to reduce its rates for the third year in a row.