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NW Natural seeks 12.6% increase in base rates for Wash. gas customers

Northwest Natural Holding Co. gas utility Northwest Natural Gas Co. asked Washington regulators to increase base rates by 12.6% so it can recover higher operating costs and distribution system investments made over 10 years.

The request, filed Dec. 31, 2018, with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, also includes benefits from the 2017 federal tax cuts that would be given back to customers, resulting in a 2.4% decrease in customer rates for the first two years, according to a Jan. 2 news release.

Falling natural gas prices have caused an almost 40% dip in average residential rates in Washington, which has also become the fastest growing portion of NW Natural's service territory, making the request a "necessary step" in the regulatory process to recover costs, NW Natural President and CEO David Anderson said. The utility has invested $58.7 million in infrastructure improvements and growth projects. Washington customers also saw a 7.2% bill reduction Nov. 1, 2018.

Under the proposal, Washington residential customers using 56 therms per month would see a $5.19 average increase in their monthly bill, while the average commercial customer using 234 therms per month would see a $16.53 increase. The new rates are expected to take effect Dec. 1.

NW Natural serves about 2 million customers in Oregon and southwest Washington.