No natural gas price increase

Oregon’s three natural gas utilities predict no increase in natural gas prices over the next two years.

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Oregon’s three natural gas utilities said their prices would remain unchanged or slightly lower in an annual price outlook presentation to the Oregon Public Utility Commission Tuesday.

A recession-era drop in industrial demand for natural gas combined with a surplus of supply from drilling in shale gas formations have caused gas prices to drop.

Utilities’ gas costs are estimated ahead of time and built into rates without a markup. If the estimates turn out to be dramatically different from market reality, ratepayers might see an adjustment later.

The state’s largest gas utility, NW Natural, for example, refunded $36 million to customers this time last year and lowered rates by 16 percent in November as falling demand and a surplus of supplies and stored inventories translated to plunging prices.


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