Sammamish residents have expressed worries over being able to afford higher electricity and gas bills after Puget Sound Energy (PSE) announced rate increases in early October that will go into effect later this year.
In the Oct. 3 announcement, PSE said that rates for natural gas will go up starting in November, while electricity bills will start getting more expensive in January 2023.
PSE cited rising natural gas prices, as well as state policy objectives for clean energy, safety, and reliability investments, as the reasons for the natural gas rate hikes.
PSE filed a rate increase proposal with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) last month. If this is approved, the typical natural gas residential customer using 64 therms per month would see their monthly bill increase by $13, for a monthly total of $88. Future rate increases will come in at $5 more for 2023 and another $1 in 2024.
PSE also filed an electricity rate increase proposal with the UTC earlier this year. PSE is seeking to recoup the cost of $3.1 billion in investments they have made over the last four years, according to their new release. If approved, the typical electricity residential customer, using 800 kWh, would see a rate increase of $8 in 2023 for a monthly bill of $97. That goes up $98 in 2024.
Soma Oberoi, a Sammamish resident in her mid-40s, is perturbed about inflation across the board, and did not take PSE’s announcement well.
“These days, inflation is high, which is concerning. There is high inflation in every department, whether it is grocery prices, property taxes, or gas prices,” Oberoi said. “Additionally, I heard Puget Sound is raising gas prices as well. This is not good news for me.”
This announcement came just weeks after the residents received surprise property assessments from King County, in which property values increased by an average of 52% year over year.
Rising inflation and interest rates are making residents worry that higher energy bills would tip struggling families over the edge.
47-year-old Aparna Parihar is concerned about the impact that higher utility bills will have on her community, especially those that may already be struggling to meet the necessities. Parihar strongly believes that the government should not allow the increase and instead, help PSE through grants to manage the cost.
“People are losing their jobs and are struggling to meet their basic needs. When things are not in your control, it gives you a lot of stress. When you are not able to provide the basics for your family, it impacts your confidence and self-esteem. Electricity is one of the necessities,” said Parihar.