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Originally published October 8, 2008 at 5:30 PM | Page modified October 8, 2008 at 5:30 PM

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Puget Sound Energy electric rates drop, gas rises

State regulators have taken two actions that will result in lower electricity bills for Puget Sound Energy residential customers, while natural gas bills will rise.

OLYMPIA, Wash. —

State regulators have taken two actions that will result in lower electricity bills for Puget Sound Energy residential customers, while natural gas bills will rise.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission on Wednesday accepted a Bonneville Power Administration electric power credit, which will allow residential electricity rates to drop by 3 percent.

The commission also approved settlement of PSE's general rate case filed last December.

PSE had requested an average increase of $7.50 for residential electricity customers. But that will be more than offset by the power credit, which will average about $10.

Beginning next month, the average residential electric customer using 1000 kilowatt hours will see a decrease of about $2.50 a month, for an average bill of $97.50, the UTC said.

A typical natural gas customer using 68 therms a month will see bills increase by about $4 to about $94.50 per month.

Overall, the settlement allows the utility to collect $179.2 million in new electric and natural gas revenues annually. PSE had requested $231 million in new revenues.

Under the settlement, the commission could impose penalties of as much as $15 million a year if PSE fails to meet service standards, such as a high number of complaints or prolonged and frequent power interruptions. Customers will receive a $50 credit in the event of a power outage lasting more than five days.

A new program also will be established to improve PSE's ability to issue accurate and timely bills to customers. As of June 30, the utility acknowledged potential problems with 17,276 electric and gas meters.

Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy is the state's largest electric and natural gas utility, serving more than 1 million electric customers and 737,000 natural gas customers in 11 counties, primarily in Western Washington.

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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