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News Release
Natural Gas Price Relief Predicted
July 7, 2009 (2009-010)
Contacts:  Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, Ore.  Oregon’s natural gas companies all expect to be able to pass along double-digit price reductions to their customers this fall.  That was the encouraging message delivered to the Oregon Public Utility Commission today during the agency’s annual Natural Gas Price Outlook Workshop. Oregon is served by NW Natural Gas, Cascade Natural Gas, and Avista Utilities.
Commission natural gas analyst Ken Zimmerman said, “The crater our economy has fallen into has clearly had a big impact on natural gas prices.”
The Commission was told prices could be 10 to 20% lower. The estimates will be updated in filings due to the Commission in late August. Customer rates will change Nov. 1, 2009.
“What a difference a year makes,” Commission Chairman Lee Beyer said. “At this time a year ago we were talking about the prospect of double-digit increases, now all three of our natural gas companies anticipate being able to substantially reduce customer rates. The lower prices should help many cash-strapped households this coming winter.”
In November of 2008 NW Natural residential rates increased by 14.3%, Cascade by 5.4%, and Avista Utilities fell by 2.9% .
Wild cards that could affect natural gas prices include the hurricane season, gas pipeline disruptions, and reductions in supplies.
Oregon’s natural gas is imported through pipelines from Canada and the Rocky Mountain region.
NW Natural serves customers in northwest Oregon. Avista Utilities serves portions of southwest and northeastern Oregon while Cascade Natural Gas serves Central Oregon in the Bend region and parts of Northeast Oregon.
Roughly 715,000 Oregonians receive natural gas from either Northwest Natural Gas, Avista Utilities, or Cascade Natural Gas.