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    Utility bills likely to go up, Puget Sound Energy says


    October 5, 2022 - Amanda Zhou, The Seattle Times

     

      Oct. 4—Puget Sound Energy is telling customers they likely will see higher energy bills in late 2022 and in 2023.

      The increase is driven by rising natural gas prices, state policy objectives for clean energy, and safety and reliability investments, Puget Sound Energy said in a news release on Monday.

      The utility filed a proposal with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to increase utility bills. If it is approved, the typical residential natural gas customer could see their monthly bill increase from $75 to $88 over the next two years.

      In 2023, the typical natural gas customer would see their bill increase $5 and the typical electric residential customer would see an $8 increase. Bills would increase again in 2024 by less than $2 for electric and $1 for natural gas, if the utility's rate increase proposal is approved.

      The rate increases that would go into effect in 2023 reflect $3.1 billion in investments over the last four years to improve reliability and safety and deliver on Washington's clean energy policy objectives, Puget Sound Energy said.

      Here are some ways customers can manage higher utility costs, according to Puget Sound Energy:

      * Increase energy efficiency: Install window coverings, change furnace filters, use less hot water or switch to LED lighting

      * Turn down your thermostat 7 or 10 degrees while away or sleeping

      * Take advantage of sales on smart thermostats and electric water heaters or rebates on weatherization upgrades

      * Go online on the utility's website to see details about energy usage or consult an adviser

      Customers who need help paying their bill might qualify for assistance through the utility's bill assistance program, a government program for low-income households or the Salvation Army's fund. Puget Sound Energy said all customers can participate in its payment arrangement plan. The utility said it will work with customers to create a payment schedule for up to 18 months.

      "We are making our customers aware of these increases now, to give them time to learn about their options for controlling their energy usage and how to get help paying their energy bills," Puget Sound Energy Senior Vice President Andy Wappler said in the news release.

      If approved, the utility's rate increase for 2023 will also have a discounted rate for low-income and senior customers as well as additional funding for bill payment assistance and a pilot program that would forgive significant past-due balances, the utility said.

      ___

      (c)2022 The Seattle Times

      Visit The Seattle Times at www.seattletimes.com

      Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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