PSE general rate case settlement approved

BELLEVUE, Wash. (12/5/2017) The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission today approved Puget Sound Energy’s electric and natural gas rate case settlement agreement with certain conditions.

The order includes an additional 1 percent increase in overall electric rates, which will allow PSE to more quickly pave a path to a cleaner energy future our customers want

The settlement agreement establishes a financing mechanism for the decommissioning and remediation needed after the shutdown of PSE’s coal-fired Colstrip Units 1 and 2, which is scheduled for July 2022 at the latest. The settlement also sets aside funding to pay for shut-down and cleanup costs for Units 3 and 4 at Colstrip, although no shutdown dates have been established for those newer units.

“This approved settlement agreement ensures that our grandchildren won’t be paying for decisions made five decades ago,” said Ken Johnson, PSE director of Regulatory Affairs. “We’re committed to providing our customers with reliable and affordable energy but also understand the importance of a clean environment to secure a sustainable future.”

As coal becomes less of PSE’s portfolio, the settlement agreement sets aside a $10 million fund to help the community of Colstrip transition. While the details of how the transition fund will be spent have not been finalized, it is envisioned that economic development and job training for existing community members would be key components.

“While PSE represents only one of six Colstrip owners, we believe the community transition fund is an important first step in creating a viable funding source to help the community transition to new opportunities for employment in the years to come,” Johnson said.

For the newer Colstrip Units 3 and 4, the schedule for depreciating those investments has been accelerated from a period ending in 2045 to one ending in 2027. This does not mean that Units 3 and 4 will shutdown in 2027; rather it means the money invested in the units will be recovered by then.

With today’s order and just in time for the winter heating season, PSE’s natural gas rates, combined with a decrease that went into effect on Nov. 1, will drop by a 6.5 percent. Increased supplies have driven gas costs down.

New rates from today’s decision go into effect later this month.