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News Release
Combined Commission Decisions Lead to Rate Increase for NW Natural Customers Starting November 1 - 10/19/20

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently approved a rate decrease as part of the annual purchased gas adjustment filing, and a rate increase as the result of a general rate revision and corporate activity tax filings by the utility. The combined adjustments lead to an average rate increase of 2.88 percent for NW Natural customers effective November 1, 2020. The combined rate impact by customer type is indicated below:

  • Residential Customers - The monthly bill of a typical customer will increase by $2.21, or 4.22 percent.
  • Commercial Customers - The monthly bill of a typical customer will increase by $9.29, or 3.74 percent.
  • Industrial Customers - The monthly bill of a typical customer will increase by $16.70, or 0.43 percent.

“We recognize that authorizing any increase in rates at a time when Oregonians are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic will present challenges for some customers,” said Megan Decker, PUC Chair. “The PUC has been working in close partnership with utilities and consumer advocates to ensure protections are in place to mitigate these hardships. We encourage customers to reach out to NW Natural to learn about options for assistance.”

Below is a breakdown of the two separate decisions made by the PUC that led to the overall increase in rates highlighted above.

Purchased Gas Adjustment – Overall decrease

The PUC approves annual adjustments to each regulated natural gas service provider’s rates to reflect changes in the actual cost of wholesale priced natural gas, known as the Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA). This allows companies to pass through their actual cost of purchasing gas to customers without a markup on the price. This year, the PUC approved an overall decrease in revenues of $25.18 million, or 1.7 percent for NW Natural customers, when compared to 2019 company gross revenues.

Rate Revision and Corporate Activity Tax (CAT) Filings Approved in a Comprehensive Stipulation– Overall Increase

The PUC recently approved a $45.8 million, or 7.4 percent increase for non-gas costs in a general rate proceeding. NW Natural originally proposed an increase of $71.4 million or 11.5 percent in revenues. The parties to the rate proceeding reached an overall settlement, which the PUC approved and reduced NW Natural’s original request by more than $25.6 million. The settlement also provides that NW Natural may begin collecting the CAT, a new tax on all businesses having a certain level of commercial activity in Oregon, increasing customer rates an additional $3.15 million.

NW Natural’s increase in costs is largely driven by moving the Company’s new operations center, increased operations and maintenance costs, investments in information technology systems and software, replacement of a gas dehydration system, expenses attributable to inflation, work force-related costs, increases in the costs of providing utility service, and the collection of the corporate activity tax.

To increase energy efficiency and save on bills, customers are encouraged to:

  • Turn down thermostats to save up to 3 percent for each degree. A programmable thermostat that reduces heat at night or when no one is home can lower heating bills by 5 to 10 percent.
  • Update low-efficiency furnaces and water heaters with higher-efficiency models. 
  • Fully insulate homes to realize up to 30 percent savings on a heating bill. 
  • Clean or change the furnace filter once a month during the heating season. 
  • Conduct an online Home Energy Review through the Energy Trust of Oregon.
  • Ask their natural gas service provider about bill payment assistance programs.

 

NW Natural serves approximately 680,000 customers in northwest Oregon.

About the PUC
The Public Utility Commission of Oregon (PUC) regulates customer rates and services of the state’s investor-owned electric, natural gas and telephone utilities, as well as select water companies. The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregon utility customers have access to safe, reliable, and high quality utility services at just and reasonable rates. This is done through robust analysis and independent decision-making conducted in an open and fair process.

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View more news releases from Oregon Public Utility Commission.