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Cascade Natural Gas to raise rates

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission approved a rate increase Wednesday for Cascade Natural Gas, which serves the Sunnyside area.

Rates for residential customers will increase 25.3 percent, while commercial customers and large volume customers will see increases of 27.5 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

Larry Rosok, vice president of Human Resources for Cascade, said the rate increases are needed to pass the cost of purchasing gas along to customers.

Part of the rate increase is due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina, he said, however Washington gets most of its natural gas from Canada and the Rocky Mountain area.

"We are impacted by that, but not to the extent that other areas are," Rosok said of Katrina.

Other areas, like the east coast will see substantial increases.

Jon Stoltz, senior vice president of Gas Supply and Regulatory Affairs for Cascade, said parts of the east coast could see increases of 70 percent.

The cost increases in natural gas which the company will pass along to the customer, Stoltz said, may not make enough difference to fully compensate for the increase in the cost of gas. Conservation efforts will likely cause a decrease in natural gas consumption this winter, he said.

"We'll probably lose money," Stoltz said.

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