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Commission Approves New Natural Gas Rates



October 18, 2016 (2016-03)
Contacts: Lisa Hardie, Chair, 503 378-6611, Stephen Bloom, Commissioner, 503 378-6611, John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611, Michael Dougherty, Chief Operating Officer, 503 373-1303 
Salem, OR.  It will cost you a little less to heat your home or operate your business with natural gas this winter.
Today the Oregon Public Utility Commission approved new rates to take effect beginning Nov. 1, 2016, to reflect changes in commodity natural gas prices.
Natural gas rates are going down in Oregon for the customers of all three regulated natural gas utilities. The reduction in the weighted average cost of gas is generally the result of the continued increase in natural gas supply coupled with an overall reduction in customer demand. The winter of 2015-2016 was warmer than normal, leading to lower customer demand which led to reduced wholesale natural gas prices in the winter and spring. The downward pressure on wholesale prices has continued even after the winter period due to the abundance of natural gas in storage and continued high natural gas production levels.
NW Natural – UG 313
Overall - A decrease of $12.6 million, or 1.77 percent 
·          Residential     1.4   percent decrease
·          Commercial    1.6   percent decrease
·          Industrial       3.6   percent decrease
With these changes, the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 50 therms per month will decrease by $1.40, or -2.5 percent, from $54.76 to $53.36.
Avista Utilities – UG 314
Overall - A decrease of $6 million, or 6.1 percent
·          Residential     5.7   percent decrease
·          Commercial    6.9   percent decrease
·          Industrial       11.9 percent decrease
 With these changes, the monthly bill of a residential customer using an average of 46 therms per month will decrease by $3.36, or -5.7 percent, from $59.21 to $55.84.
Cascade Natural Gas – UG 319
Overall - A decrease of $9 million, or 14 percent 
·          Residential     13.4 percent decrease
·          Commercial    16.1 percent decrease
·          Industrial       19    percent decrease
With these changes, the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 51 therms per month will decrease by $6.14, or -13.2 percent, from $46.50 to $40.36.
The Commission approves adjustments to each of the company’s rates once a year to reflect the actual cost of the wholesale price of natural gas. This allows natural gas companies to pass through their actual cost of purchasing gas. There is no markup of the price. 

Oregon’s natural gas arrives through pipelines connected to gas fields in Canada and the Rocky Mountain region, which have ample supplies.
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.  
Customers can reduce their bill by:
·        Turning down your thermostat can 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%.
·        Update low-efficiency furnaces and water heaters with higher-efficiency models. 
·        Fully insulating your residence generally results in up to 30% savings on a heating bill. 
·        Clean or change the furnace filter once a month during the heating season. 
·        Ask for an energy audit by the utility that provides your heating. Customers of NW Natural and Cascade should arrange for an audit through the Energy Trust of Oregon. Avista Utilities conducts traditional energy audits.
·        And lastly, contact your gas utility about bill payment assistance.