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Washington power bills could climb higher

The average residential electricity bill in Tacoma, Washington, could rise by as much as $8 if state regulators approve a new rate hike request, the Bellingham Herald reports.

According to the media outlet, if officials with the Tacoma Public Utilities approve the proposed two-year rate plan, power rates would rise again in 2014. The potential rate increases will amount to about 4.2 percent every year, which utilities say are necessary to pay for higher costs as revenues continue to decline.

"Unfortunately, we are proposing rate adjustments," Gaines said when presenting TPU’s 2013-14 budget proposal to the Tacoma City Council. He added TPU officials are "trying to minimize the increases as much as possible."

The higher rates are in line with a larger plan that includes a $1.1 billion proposed budget for TPU for the coming two years, which increases the budget by $110 million compared with earlier spending.

Washington could benefit from energy deregulation laws that give electric customers the option to shop around for prices and compare the best electricity rates of the region. In other states where deregulation has been in place for years, including Connecticut, Texas and New Jersey, rates have shown to fall on more competition.