Natural Gas Rates Increasing January 1, 2024 to Comply with the State’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap and Invest Program
ELLENSBURG, Wash. — In 2021, the Washington State Legislature passed a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap and Invest Program otherwise known as the Climate Commitment Act (CCA), establishing a comprehensive market-based program to reduce carbon pollution and achieve greenhouse gas limits set in state law. The City’s Natural Gas and Electric Utilities are required to comply with these laws and invest utility funds in carbon auctions to cover emissions, effective January 2023. The Ellensburg City Council approved a natural gas rate increase at the November 6 meeting to cover approximately $2.7 million in 2023 & 2024 carbon allowance investments over the next three years.
“Legacy” customers—natural gas service addresses established on or before July 25, 2021—will receive a credit against the full rate adjustment, resulting in $.2343/Ccf increase in 2024. For services established after that date, the full rate adjustment will be added ($.3626/Ccf). Low-income senior citizens, low-income disabled citizens, and non-profit customers (meeting the City's current definition) are exempt from this rate adjustment.
“As a small municipal gas distribution system, the City of Ellensburg must raise rates to comply with the State’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap and Invest Program. To meet the compliance obligation imposed by the CCA, the City must participate in allowance auctions administered by the Dept. of Ecology,” said Buddy Stanavich, City Energy Resources Manager.
The City has approximately 4,223 residential and 772 business customers using natural gas. This rate adjustment will add between $30.76-$44.86 a month to the average residential customer’s bill and $70.01-$104.63 to the average commercial customer’s bill in 2024 (the lower end of the range is for legacy customers). However, individual bill impacts vary depending on weather, household use and efficiency factors. Rate adjustments take place on January 1, 2024. Additional rate increases will be required through 2030.
Municipal gas utilities like Ellensburg are disproportionately impacted by the costs of the CCA. A portion of the City’s 2024 legislative priorities include advocacy for the State to deliver assistance programs such as incentives to assist customers to switch to low and carbon-free energy equipment; increase “no cost” allowances; and decrease the burden for small utilities to comply with the law.
For additional information, contact Energy Resources Manager Buddy Stanavich at 509-962-7225. For energy bill assistance, please contact HopeSource’s Energy Assistance Program online Energy Assistance (hopesource.us) or call 509-925-1448.