SOURCE: NW Natural

October 10, 2008 20:00 ET

NW Natural Files for Lower-Than-Projected Rate Increase

Gas Company Takes Advantage of Falling Commodity Prices

PORTLAND, OR--(Marketwire - October 10, 2008) - Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE: NWN) today filed updated requests with the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC) and the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) for rate increases to cover higher wholesale natural gas costs.

The Company is requesting a 14 percent rate increase in Oregon and a 20 percent rate increase in Washington for residential customers, which is significantly below its original projections made last July. Despite the recent declines in natural gas prices, an increase is required because prices are still higher than they were at this time last year.

"Natural gas prices reached all-time highs in July when we made our initial rate increase projection, but recently we've seen prices decrease," said Randy Friedman, Director of Gas Supply. "Combine an economic slowdown with greater gas production and you have all the ingredients for a decline in prices."

NW Natural does not profit from higher natural gas costs. The company passes gas costs through to customers without a markup. Last year, NW Natural reduced rates by 8 percent in Oregon and 10 percent in Washington as a result of lower gas costs.

Today's final rate change filing will be reviewed by the OPUC and WUTC. Any changes to rates will take effect November 1, 2008.

An Oregon residential customer using 56 therms per month would see an average monthly bill increase of about $10. A residential customer in Washington using 62 therms per month would see an average monthly increase of about $15.

In Oregon, the increase for commercial customers would be about 16 percent. Washington commercial customers would see about a 21 percent increase.

"While recent price declines are good news, we still encourage customers to prepare early for this winter by visiting nwnatural.com for energy efficiency tips, payment plan options and information on energy assistance funding," said Gregg Kantor, President and Chief Operating Officer.

About NW Natural

NW Natural is headquartered in Portland, Ore., and serves about 657,000 residential and business customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It is the largest independent natural gas utility in the Pacific Northwest and is one of the fastest-growing local distribution companies in the nation. For more information about NW Natural, please visit nwnatural.com.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jenna Cooper-Gross
    NW Natural
    jcg@nwnatural.com
    503-226-4211, ext. 3511
    503-880-8881