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Natural gas rates will drop for Avista’s Washington customers

UPDATED: Thu., Oct. 29, 2015, 4:17 p.m.

Heating bills for Avista Utilities’s Washington customers will drop this winter as a result of lower wholesale prices for natural gas.

A typical household will see a $10 drop in their monthly gas bill. The lower prices take effect Sunday and represent a drop of nearly 15 percent. The new monthly bill for a household using 68 therms of natural gas would be about $58.

On Thursday, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved the lower rates for Avista and other state-regulated utilties. More than 1 million natural gas customers will pay less for service as a result of the change, the UTC said in a news release.

A similar rate decrease for Avista’s Idaho customers also was approved this week.

Avista serves about 150,000 natural gas customers, primarily in Eastern Washington.

Natural gas providers are required to submit plans for adjusting their rates every 15 months to account for changes in wholesale prices and other market conditions.

The wholesale cost of natural gas and transporting it to Avista facilities accounts for about 50 percent of a customer’s bill, according to Avista.

In a separate request, Avista is asking to raise base rates for natural gas customers to address fixed costs of providing service. The company is seeking $11.3 million in additional revenue from Washington gas customers. That request is pending before the Utitilies and Transportation Commission.

The three-member commission is responsible for ensuring that utilities provide safe and reliable service at reasonable rates, while allowing the utilities the opportunity to earn a fair profit.