The Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently approved an increase in natural gas rates for Avista Utilities customers due to an annual purchased gas adjustment – which goes into effect November 1, 2021. Since 2007, Avista has experienced 12 rate decreases and three rate increases due to this purchased gas adjustment.
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, 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.
The PUC approved an overall revenue increase of $10.5 million for Avista customers for the PGA annual filing when compared to 2020 company gross revenues. The increase, effective November 1, 2021, is largely due to significant weather-related events and the increase in natural gas prices worldwide. The result of this decision is an increase in customer rates as indicated below:
- Residential Customers – The monthly bill of a typical residential customer using an average of 48 therms per month will increase by $5.19, or 8.4 percent, from $61.78 to $66.97.
- Commercial Customers – The monthly bill of a typical customer using an average of 202 therms per month will increase by $27.80, or 12.9 percent, from $215.29 to $243.09.
- Industrial Customers – The monthly bill of a typical customer using an average of 4,003 therms per month will increase by $550.89, or 28.5 percent, from $1,993.45 to $2,484.34.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s 2021 Winter Fuels Outlook, nearly half of U.S. households that heat primarily with natural gas will spend 30 percent more on average than they spent last winter.
Avista recently filed a rate case with the PUC seeking additional revenues for non-gas costs. A decision on this filing, which is scheduled for mid-2022, will further impact customer rates.
To increase energy efficiency and save on energy 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.
- Learn about bill payment assistance programs from Avista’s customer service team.
Avista Utilities serves just over 106,000 customers in portions of southwest and northeastern Oregon.