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.
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.