Opinion

Comment on rate increases

Puget Sound Energy customers will receive a little something extra in their bills this month. They should each get a notice with details of a proposed rate increase and sales transaction, along with a detachable comment card. It’s a very handy way for people to tell state regulators what they think about the energy company’s plans to hike monthly electric bills by nearly 12 percent, on average, and gas bills nearly 6 percent, on average.

PSE filed a request with the state Utilities and Transportation Commission in December to take in an additional $174.5 million in revenues from electric customers and $56.7 million from gas customers. In addition, PSE’s parent company is proposing selling the company to a consortium of investors from Australia, Canada, and the U.S. in a deal valued at more than $7 billion. If the acquisition moves forward, it will no longer be a publicly traded company.

Even in an age of skyrocketing energy costs, PSU customers may have good reason to oppose such a drastic increase and be wary of a change in ownership. Most of them undoubtedly remember the controversy over the power company’s response to outages following storms in December of 2006. The state Attorney General’s Office is also weighing in on the subject, calling the proposed rate increases excessive and urging PSE customers to fill out the comment cards. The Public Counsel Section is reviewing the potential impact of the company’s proposed sale.

Customers can also submit comments via email at comments@wutc.wa.gov, online at www.wutc.wa.gov/comment or call the UTC toll-free 1-800-562-6150.

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