PSE Seeking Rate Hikes for Electricity and Gas

Puget Sound Energy has asked the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission to approve an additional 6.9% in electricity revenue, and a whopping 7.9% in additional natural gas revenue, which translates to more than $200 million annually for a majority Canadian shareholder-owned corporation.

The next public hearing where you can make your voice heard on this issue is:
What: PSE Public Comment Hearing
Where: Bellevue City Hall Council Chamber
Rm. 1E-126
450 110th Ave. NE.
Bellevue WA
Join by phone
1 (360) 407-3810 (UTC
Conference ID: 9524028
When: Wednesday, January 22, 6pm

They are also taking comments online, by phone, snail mail and email until Feb 6th:
Online: Comment Form
Phone: 1-888-333-WUTC
Email: comments@utc.wa.gov
Mail: UTC, P.O Box 47250, Olympia, WA 98504-7250

Don’t know what to say? Keep on reading!

Unlike publicly owned energy utilities that are cheaper, cleaner, and provide more reliable service, privately held Puget Sound Energy gets more than 60% of its energy from dirty fossil fuels such as coal and fracked gas.

It’s time that our state Utilities and Transportation Commission sides with the people and stop rubber stamping rate hikes for monopoly energy utilities that are forcing continued dependence on dirty fossil fuels!

Puget Sound Energy has already raised their fracked gas rates by 14.1% on November 1st, despite a 50% reduction in market gas prices. Now they’re back for more.

Talking Points

  • Every study on how to meet our climate goals requires phasing out fracked gas – from our homes, schools, businesses and electricity system. 
  • We should be working to begin dismantling fracked gas infrastructure, and UTC approving huge rate increases sends the wrong message.
  • This rate hike is happening because of a huge pipeline explosion in British Columbia that led to rationing and almost caused power outages. This is not reliable or safe energy infrastructure – why should WA consumers be forced to pay more for it when cleaner, safer electricity is available?
  • PSE has had two major gas leaks in Seattle in 2019, including one that sent workers to the hospital. It’s inevitable that this won’t be the last major rate hike request as our gas infrastructure continues to age. 
  • This brings concern about how the UTC plans to handle the Liquefied Natural Gas facility in Tacoma — which will only be used for ratepayers around 2% of the time, and yet ratepayers will be on the hook to pay for more than 40% of the project. All the while the LNG facility has been built without a major permit, demonstrating a lack of prudence and responsibility on PSE’s part.
  • In the 2017 IRP acknowledgement letter, the UTC stated that “PSE’s next IRP must address what the Company will do in the event the LNG plant or pipeline upgrades are significantly delayed or cancelled,” demonstrating UTC understanding that PSE has been building at its own risk. Ratepayers shouldn’t be the ones to pay when utilities like PSE continue to force gas into our energy mixes when it’s economically irresponsible and when their ratepayers are demanding other options.  
  • -When our money pays to continue and expand fracking methane gas, we are complicit in the harms caused: contaminated water tables and decrease of freshwater supplies, severe health consequences for communities near fracking sites and refineries, habitat loss and deforestation, the crisis of Missing & Murdered Indigenous Women near pipeline construction and extraction, violation of indigenous rights/Treaties, and ignoring global scientific consensus that says we have to keep remaining fossil fuels in the ground or face dire consequences.  

PSE Expenditures and Incentives – They don’t need our money!

For some more background information on Puget Sound Energy, keep on reading:

  • CEO Kimberly Harris made $7.6 million in compensation in 2018
  • PSE sponsors tons of events (it is a monopoly and doesn’t need to advertise) so it’s all about greenwashing
  • PSE is part of $1M PR campaign to fight any initiatives that curb fossil fuel use: “The gas companies are forming a coalition of unions, businesses and consumer groups to tout the benefits of natural gas and to help “prevent or defeat” initiatives that inhibit its use, according to internal industry documents obtained by The Seattle Times. They’re calling the coalition “Partners for Energy Progress,” and a public launch is scheduled next year.”
  • Shareholders guaranteed return on infrastructure investments of around 10%
  • From 2016 to 2018, PSE spent over $1,742,000 on lobbyists in Olympia. That’s almost $400,000 more than Amazon spent on lobbying during the same period. And that’s just lobbying.
  • Between 2008 and 2018, PSE gave $665,598 to candidates across Washington.
  • Over the last 10 years, according to Sightline, PSE’s total political spending in Washington looks more like $7 million (compared to $2 million from Amazon). That money is donated to candidates, spent on lobbying, and used to fund special interest PACs like the one it’s supporting this year in Seattle.
  • In 2012, for example, there was a ballot measure to switch Thurston County, where Olympia is located, from relying on PSE to being served by a publicly owned utility. It turned into the most expensive election in Thurston County history. PSE spent more than $400,000 against the measure, which ultimately wasn’t approved by voters.
  • In October of 2018, PSE changed hands once again. This time, PSE was taken over by British Columbia Investment Management Corporation and Alberta Investment Management Corporation, Canadian pension funds that currently control 90 percent of the company. And guess what? Those pension funds are dirty with oil and fracked gas money. “More than $3 billion of the $135.5 billion managed by the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI) is invested in the top 200 publicly traded oil and gas companies,” reports CBC. “It is concerning that our private utility is owned by an out of state interest that has a financial incentive,” Caleb Heeringa, communications director for the Sierra Club, told The Stranger.
Leave a Reply