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PSE files $41.9M rate increase under decoupling in Washington state

Assuming Washington state regulatory approval, Puget Sound Energy Inc. will impose a $41.9 million revenue increase under a decoupling adjustment mechanism, effective May 1 through April 2018.

Decoupling is intended to break the link between a utility's earnings and a consumer's energy consumption so that utilities can recover lost revenue due to their conservation efforts, such as customer education, and will not be discouraged from deploying energy efficiency and conservation measures.

PSE filed an advice letter with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on March 31 to that effect, and published a notice on the same date on its website. The latter states the commission has authority to set final rates that may vary from PSE's requests, and the results may be either higher or lower or structured differently depending on results of the commission's review.

The projected revenue increase is 2% and consists of two components reflecting projected allowed revenue for the coming rate year and a true-up of a deferral of the difference between allowed and actual volumetric revenue during 2016.

The advice letter proposes an average increase in overall electric and gas bills of 2% for PSE's customers, though a few categories of customers will see a decrease in rates. The typical residential customer using 900 kWh per month will see an increase of $2.54 per month, according to the advice letter.

The notice includes two other adjustments as well. The notice states that the combined requests will increase electric rates by an overall average of 2.7% and natural gas rates by an overall average of 2.2%. It also states the typical residential customer using 900 kWh will see an overall increase of $3.48 per month. The typical residential gas customer using 64 therms per month will see an overall increase of $1.81 per month. Further, the notice provides a schedule that residential service delivered through one meter to a single-family unit and master metered residential service will respectively see 3.7% and 3.6% electric bill increases.

PSE is requesting these changes through its existing conservation rider, property tax tracker and decoupling adjustment mechanisms, which allow the utility to periodically adjust electric and natural gas rates to reflect changes in actual costs of these services, the notice said. The conservation program charge reflects adjustments in electric and natural gas rates to offset the costs of investments made in energy efficiency programs that are made available to customers, the notice said. The property tax adjustment passes through the costs of PSE's property taxes.

Large secondary and general primary electric customers, and some interruptible and transportation natural gas customers, will see a slight decrease or no change in rates, the notice said.