September 15, 2008

Idaho’s Intermountain Gas Co. Requesting One-Year Increase to Rates

By Anonymous

Soaring natural gas prices are prompting another Idaho utility to request an increase to its one-year gas cost surcharge, with Intermountain Gas Company's application to raise average monthly rates by between 15 and 18 percent.

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission said the adjustment would be for one year only, expiring next fall, and translate into about $7.90 more per month for customers who use natural gas for space heating only. For those using gas for space and water heating the figure would be more like $12.30 extra per month, though actual increases would vary based on usage.

The commission will take written comments, rather than public testimony, on the request through Sept. 25 and, if approved, the increase would take effect Oct. 1.

Intermountain Gas, which serves about 300,000 customers in southern Idaho, has requested the up-tick in its annual Purchased Gas Cost Adjustment (PGA) to collect $54.3 million it paid to suppliers over the past year. The commission said none of the profits can benefit Intermountain's bottom-line, instead going directly to cover gas supply expenses not included in existing rates.

Each year the PGA is adjusted either up or down depending on the fluctuation of wholesale natural gas prices. In 2007 Intermountain Gas customers received an 8 percent PGA decrease, and in 2006 got a 4 percent credit when prices were lower than expected.

Utilities officials say this year wholesale prices rose to levels not seen since hurricane's Rita and Katrina in 2005.

Avista Utilities, which serves about 75,000 natural gas customers in northern Idaho, is also requesting an increase to its PGA, potentially raising rates by about 14 percent. Public comment will be taken on that application until Sept. 23 with an effective date of Oct. 1.

Credit: IBR Staff Report

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