Friday, August 14, 2020
Aug. 14, 2020

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Pair of rate hikes to hit NW Natural customers in Clark County

Average customer will pay $3.95 more per month

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor

Two simultaneous natural-gas rate increases will hit NW Natural customers in Clark County next month.

One hike is due to a state-approved general increase that will add $5.1 million to NW Natural’s revenue. The other is caused by a ruptured gas pipeline in British Columbia in October 2018 that reduced the state’s supply, and also last winter’s colder-than-normal temperatures, according to the Washington Utilities and Transport Commission.

The average NW Natural customer in Washington, who uses 57 therms a month, will be paying an additional $3.95 in estimated monthly costs after both increases, according to the commission. The adjustments affect 86,000 NW Natural customers in Southwest Washington and begin Nov. 1.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved NW Natural’s 7.8 percent rate increase on Monday. NW Natural originally requested a 12.6 percent increase. It’s the first general rate increase for the company in more than 10 years, according to a news release from the commission.

The second rate increase affects all natural-gas customers in Washington. It’s a result of a 36-inch diameter natural-gas line called the Enbridge pipeline near Prince George, B.C. that ruptured and exploded last year, according to a Thursday news release. The cause of the rupture was likely moisture corrosion that caused cracks, and no one was hurt in the subsequent explosion, according to an article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Construction crews repaired the pipeline less than a month after it burst.

Natural gas imports from the pipe, which averaged 1.1 billion cubic feet per day, were cut off for a day after the rupture, according to a news release from the commission. However, shortages in capacity continued through the winter of 2019, according to the news release.

Washington’s natural-gas companies are required to file purchased-gas-cost adjustments every 15 months to adjust rates based on the market’s behavior, which the pipeline rupture affected. The cost of the gas is passed to customers, and the companies do not profit from the increases, the news release stated.

NW Natural, based in Portland, supplies natural gas to about 86,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Southwest Washington.

The Columbian could not immediately reach NW Natural.