NW Natural reaches cleanup deal

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Monday, July 15, 2013

Northwest Natural Gas reached an agreement with the Oregon Public Utility Commission on how to charge ratepayers for Portland Harbor cleanup costs.

The gas company manufactured gas near the St. Johns Bridge between 1913 and 1956, and now has to recover pollution cleanup costs from current ratepayers.

The liability is unknown. The range of estimates for the total superfund cleanup are vast: from $200 million to $1.8 billion, depending on how much expensive dredging is required. The costs will also be spread in a complex allocation among more than 100 potentially responsible parties during the next few decades, and those parties are wrangling with their insurance companies. The Environmental Protection agency is still settling on the best method and scope of the cleanup.

The company expects the average residential ratepayer would see a nominal increase in monthly costs of about 1.6 percent, while commercial customers would see a 1.5 percent bump. The company's annual gas cost adjustment includes a variety of other moving parts that could impact rates up or down, however, so its impossible to say what rates will do in November.

Read more at OregonLive.com.

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