Puget Sound Energy (PSE) will increase electric rates by 1 percent and decrease natural-gas rates by 3.9 percent under a settlement unanimously approved Tuesday by the state Utilities and Transportation Commission.
The settlement also helps chart a course for the future of PSE’s shares of a major coal-fired power-plant complex in Colstrip, Montana.
The deal sets up a way to finance the state’s largest private utility to finance the decommissioning and cleanup of Colstrip units 1 and 2 by 2022. It also allows PSE to shorten – from 2045 to 2027 – the time frame for recovering the costs for Colstrip 3 and 4, and requires that PSE make annual estimates of when these two units might shut down.
The agreement also sets aside $5 million for community development in Colstrip as a coal-dependent town, an amount that will be matched by company shareholders.
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The utilities commission, in its written order, called the agreement “historic,” addressing challenging issues related to Colstrip that have been around for more than a decade.
Stakeholders in the settlement include PSE, The Kroger Co., the state of Montana, Sierra Club, Renewable Northwest, NW Energy Coalition and utilities-commission staff.
Under the agreement, a typical PSE residential electric customer will see a monthly bill increase by 96 cents. A typical PSE residential natural-gas user will see a monthly bill decrease by $2.67. The rate changes will take effect later this month.