Bulletin Staff Report

Natural gas prices will go up next month under new rates approved Friday by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.

The decision affects customers of Cascade Natural Gas Co., which provides natural gas to 75,000 customers in Bend and other areas in Northeast Oregon. The rates go into effect Nov. 1. Rate increases were also approved for Avista Utilities and NW Natural.

The PUC said that since 2009, natural gas prices have decreased every year except 2013 and 2014.

The PUC approved an overall increase of $5.3 million, or 8.5% for Cascade Natural customers.

The company said the monthly bill of a typical customer using 62 therms per month will increase by $3.89, or 8.3%, from $46.69 to $50.58. Commercial customers who average 264 therms per month will increase by $17.96, or 11.5%, from $156.73 to $174.69. Industrial customers using the average 1,748 therms per month will increase by $135.50, or 13.8%, from $983.63 to $1,119.13.

In a statement, the PUC said the cost of the natural gas supply spiked over the last year due to a pipeline explosion last winter, which cut regional gas supply and caused prices to increase. The state allows companies to pass along their purchase costs to customers without a markup on the price.

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