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caption: Homes are shown on Wallingford Ave. N., on Friday, August 18, 2017, in Wallingford.
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Homes are shown on Wallingford Ave. N., on Friday, August 18, 2017, in Wallingford.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Higher gas bills for Seattle residents next month. Here’s why

Bills are going up for Puget Sound Energy's natural gas customers.

It's partly because of cold weather and a pipeline explosion in the last year.

Puget Sound Energy has announced it will hike the cost of natural gas by 14 percent starting Nov. 1 for apartments and houses. Commercial rates are going up at different amounts.

"This past year we experienced three major snow storms and just overall cold weather that hit that demand very hard," said Jarrett Tomalin, a costumer communications manager for PSE.

He said in addition they are recovering from an explosion a year ago of a gas pipeline in British Columbia that feeds PSE's grid. That led to a temporary shortage of natural gas for PSE.

"With the Enbridge pipeline incident... supply was strained a little bit and it really caused the cost to be higher than what was expected," Tomalin said.

The Sierra Club said that's one reason utilities should move away from natural gas and fully adopt renewable energy. The environmental group has criticized PSE for continuing to build out natural gas infrastructure and pipelines.

Tomalin said, though, natural gas remains one of the cheapest energy sources.

The rate increase will translate to an average of $9 more a month for PSE's residential customers in November. Seattle City Light gas bills will also go up, starting January, by an average $4 to $8 a month.

Puget Sound Energy alters the rates yearly to make up for the wholesale costs of gas. The public can still comment on the rate increase through the state Utility and Transportation Commission website.