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Submitted by Puget Sound Energy

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) customers will see higher energy bills in late 2022 and into 2023. This is due to a combination of factors, including rising natural gas prices,  state policy objectives for clean energy, and continued investments in system reliability and safety.

Natural gas customers will experience higher natural gas rates starting in November, driven by large increases in wholesale gas prices, which have been steadily climbing. PSE filed a rate increase proposal with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) last month and if approved, the typical natural gas residential customer using 64 therms per month would see their monthly bill increase by $13 from $75 to $88. PSE does not profit from the natural gas it purchases for customers.

PSE also filed a rate increase proposal with the UTC earlier this year and if approved, the new rates would go into effect Jan. 2023. This rate request reflects more than $3.1 billion in investments over the last four years to boost reliability, enhance safety, and deliver on the state’s clean energy policy objectives. If approved, the typical electric residential customer, using 800kWh, would see a rate increase of $8 in 2023 for a monthly bill of $97. In 2024, their bill increase would be less than $2 for a monthly bill of $98. The typical natural gas residential customer, using 64 therms, would see a rate increase of $5 in 2023 and an additional one dollar in 2024. Residential natural gas customers would pay around $93 a month in 2023 when combined with the November wholesale gas cost rate increase.

Customers can save energy, get bill payment assistance at the Puget Sound Energy website.

Higher bills are never welcome, even less so at a time when so many are feeling the impacts of record inflation. PSE has a number of programs to help customers save money and reduce their bills and is working to make these programs more impactful, more accessible, and easier to sign up for than ever before.

“We are making our customers aware of these increases now, to give them time to learn about their options for controlling their energy usage and how to get help paying their energy bills,” said Andy Wappler, PSE Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “We are urging customers to take advantage of our bill assistance and energy efficiency programs to help them manage those higher costs.”

Energy efficiency is one of the most effective ways customers can cut their bills, even during the darkest and coldest days of the year. Ways to save include many DIY options, like installing basic window coverings and regularly changing furnace filters, to using less hot water, switching to LED lighting, and turning your thermostat down 7 to 10 degrees while you are away or sleeping. PSE customers can take advantage of special offers running through the end of the year, including smart thermostat sales and increased rebates on weatherization upgrades and electric hybrid water heaters. PSE also has online tools to help customers see their usage and Energy Advisors who can answer questions and help customers get started. Income-qualified customers can apply for higher rebates on energy-efficient upgrades.

Customers needing help paying their bills can see if they qualify for assistance through PSE’s bill assistance program (Home Energy Lifeline Program), the government LIHEAP program, and the Salvation Army Warm Home Fund. All customers can participate in PSE’s payment arrangement plan and we will work with customers to create a manageable payment schedule for up to 18 months. If approved by the UTC, PSE’s 2023 rate increase will have a new discount rate for low-income customers and seniors, increased funding for low-income bill payment assistance, as well as a new pilot program that would forgive the debt of eligible customers facing significant past-due balances.

To learn more about these programs and start saving energy and money, visit the Puget Sound Energy website.

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