Avista Utility customers will see a slight cost hike

Oregon Public Utility Commission reported Northwest Natural and Cascade Natural Gas customers will pay a little less for the natural gas for the third year in a row.

Avista Utility customers in Oregon, including Jackson and Josephine counties, will see a one-tenth of 1 percent hike.

"The adjustments vary from company to company due to their different strategies for buying gas. We look at what they are paying once a year and when we can pass along the savings to customers," Lori Koho, the PUC's Natural Gas Program Manager.

The new rates go into effect Tuesday.

The monthly bill of a typical Avista residential customer using 48 therms per month will increase 9 cents or 0.1 percent, from $62.16 to $62.25. In January, a typical residential customer's consumption of 94 therms will result in a billing increase of 17 cents or 0.1 percent, from $115.02 to $115.19. (Correction: The monthly bill amount has been updated in this story.)

Last November, Avista's commodity-priced natural gas rates declined 2.7 percent. However, Avista was awarded a 2.3 percent increase for its general operations billing in March.

"The general trend has been toward reductions for the past three years, primarily due to economy which has reduced demand," said PUC spokesman Bob Valdez. "The main reason why some rates are up and some down is that each company is unique in how they purchase their gas. Some people buy long-term contracts and others short-term, and it might be day to day." The combined Oregon customer base of the three companies is nearly 761,000.

—Greg Stiles

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