Commission will take comments, conduct workshops on gas hike request
The Idaho Public Utilities Commission will solicit comments through Sept. 20 on the application by Intermountain Gas to collect an approximate 27.6 percent increase from customers effective Oct. 1 to pay for its increased costs in gas supply.
Intermountain Gas states the proposed increase is needed due to higher prices it must pay to acquire natural gas for its customers. The $67.6 million raised from the increase would be passed through directly to the company’s gas suppliers. Intermountain Gas’s earnings would not increase as a result of the proposed rate hike.
Commission staff will conduct workshops in Pocatello and Boise to explain the company’s proposal to customers and allow customers to ask questions and make comments.
The Pocatello workshop is Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. at the City Hall council room at 911 N. 7th St. The Boise workshop is Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at the commission hearing room, 472 W. Washington St.
The commission uses a yearly mechanism, called the Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA), which allows the company to adjust rates to reflect changes in the costs for purchases of gas from the Williams Northwest Pipeline and other suppliers. The costs include transportation and storage.
Before the wholesale gas market became so volatile in recent years, the PGA adjustment was not significant in most years and, during some years, customers got decreases. That has not been true in the last three years with the rapidly increasing cost of natural gas. In the past year, natural gas prices have more closely followed the price of crude oil and both are at historically high levels.
Intermountain Gas proposes to increase the component of customer bills related solely to gas purchase costs from the current 55.5 cents per therm to 73.2 cents. That figure reflects current market prices and a forecast for the next year. Intermountain Gas states that it will continue to monitor the market and come to the commission before the winter heating season if forward prices significantly change from current projections.
If Intermountain Gas gets the full increase, an average bill for a customer who uses natural gas for both space and water heating would experience an average monthly increase of $17.26. For a customer who uses natural gas for space heating only, the average monthly increase is $12.17. An average household uses about 70 therms per month. Commercial customers would see an increase of about $77.76 per month.
The commission will proceed under a modified procedure that allows the case to be handled through written public comments. Those wishing to submit comments must do so by no later than Sept. 20. Comments are accepted via e-mail by accessing the commission’s homepage at www.puc.idaho.gov and clicking on "Comments & Questions." Fill in the case number (INT-G-05-02) and enter your comments. Comments can also be mailed to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720-0074 or faxed to (208) 334-3762.
A full text of the commission’s order, the company’s application and other documents are available on the commission’s Web site at www.puc.idaho.gov. Click on “File Room” and then on “Gas Cases” and scroll down to Case No. INT-G-05-02.