NW Natural Rates Coming Down

The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently approved a decrease in natural gas rates for NW Natural customers due to an annual adjustment made for natural gas purchases. The decrease, effective November 1, 2023, is largely due to the lower cost of natural gas supply and resulting over-collection of revenues from customers last year and the expectation that future costs of wholesale natural gas will remain lower this next year.

The PUC approves adjustments annually to the rates of the three regulated natural gas companies, including Avista Utilities, Cascade Natural Gas, and NW Natural, to reflect changes in the actual cost of wholesale priced natural gas. This annual adjustment, known as the purchased gas adjustment (PGA), allows companies to pass through their actual cost of purchasing gas to customers without a markup on the price. 

“During peak periods of natural gas consumption last year, NW Natural’s storage capabilities moderated prices for customers, enabling the company to purchase natural gas at times of lower wholesale prices. This, combined with the reduction of natural gas prices expected this next year, means more money in the pockets of customers,” noted Megan Decker, PUC Chair. 

The PUC recently approved an overall revenue decrease of nearly $63.2 million or approximately 7.44 percent combined for all customer types due to the PGA and related filings when compared to current rates. View the impact to each customer type as a result of this decision below:

  • Residential Customers - The monthly bill of a typical customer using an average of 56 therms per month will decrease by $7.93 or 8.0 percent, from $88.46 to $80.53.
  • Small Commercial Customers - The monthly bill of a typical customer using an average of 255 therms per month will decrease by $25.28, or 8.0 percent, from $317.60 to $292.32.
  • Industrial Customers - The monthly bill of a typical customer using an average of 5,776 therms per month will decrease by $562.66, or 11.0 percent, from $5,089.29 to $4,532.63. 

Initially, NW Natural’s PGA filing included higher costs to cover its purchase of Community Climate Investments (CCIs) for compliance with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s Climate Protection Program (CPP). The company clarified that it withdrew its request to begin collecting customer revenue for CCI purchases on November 1, 2023, because CCIs are not likely be available for the company to purchase until sometime in 2024. The company stated that it expects to file for a rate increase to cover the cost of CCI purchases closer to the time that it makes the CCI purchases. The PGA does include costs related to the company’s renewable natural gas investments and purchases, which help the company comply with the CPP.

To increase energy efficiency and save more on future bills, review Energy Trust of Oregon’s current incentives and opportunities, including income-qualified offers and learn more about  low-cost and no-cost tips to reduce energy consumption. For information about bill payment assistance options, help with past due bills, available utility discount programs, weatherization, and the Budget Pay Program that equalizes bill payments across winter and summer months, NW Natural at 800-422-4012 or view information online. Customers may also contact their local Community Action agency to request information on what assistance programs they may be eligible for and how to enroll. 

NW Natural serves nearly 700,000 customers in northwest Oregon. 

Source: Oregon Public Utility Commission

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