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Utility prices expected to rise across much of western Washington

A number of agencies have requested increases to current rates, citing needs such as investments in safety, reliability and sustainability.

TACOMA, Wash. — A number of utility agencies in the Puget Sound region have submitted for rate increases for 2023.

While in some cases the increases are routine, they come as consumers are also budgeting for increases in other areas of their expenses.

Puget Sound Energy said in addition to a cost increase for 2023, it expects an increased cost for residential customers in November due to a rise in wholesale gas prices.

Seattle City Council recently passed a 4.5% increase for Seattle City Light for 2023 and 2024, estimating it will cost the average resident less than $5 more each month, according to a council spokesperson.

Tacoma Public Utilities also announced rates for customers' power and water will include an increase of about $3.70 per month, on average.

All of these figures assume a customer is paying standard rates, but many assistance programs are available that can help with the costs of bills and weatherization.

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John Dennis is a veteran who lives in Tacoma and is now working his second career. He said he and his family have been able to handle yearly price increases in utilities, but he has noticed rising costs on a little bit of everything.

"Health care, food, gas, insurance, everything," Dennis said. "You get a raise, but by the time you get that raise, it's basically like the economy has taken that away."

Dennis said as he nears "second retirement," he expects he'll pay a little more attention to budgeting as they deal with a more fixed income.

"Then I have to look more at my bills to decide what I can afford," Dennis said.

Nathan Abma recently moved to Washington and lived in several states during his military career. He said he's actually seen some welcome changes in costs in Washington compared to Hawaii and other places he has lived.

"The face value costs like housing are substantially higher, but you make up for that with easier living," Abma said. 

Abma said he does not expect the utility rate increases to play a major role on their own, but he acknowledged that combined increased expenses can be difficult for some to afford.

"The bottom is the segment getting pinched, I am no longer in that segment, but I've felt that before," Abma said. "[To support workers], when prices go up on the menu, shrug it off, make sure people get paid, make sure they're getting taken care of. If you're getting taken care of, make sure everyone else is too."

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