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Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission                                      November 2010
Table of Contents
Are You On Facebook?
Managing Winter Energy Bills
Need Telephone Assistance?
Got Energy Vampires?
Natural Gas Safety
Power Outage Survival Tips
UTC Help
Energy Rate Changes 
In October, the commission approved a number of rate adjustments for electric and natural gas customers.
See what changes effect your energy bill by clicking on your company's name below. 

Quick Links
UTC website
1-888-333-WUTC (9882)A

Call 8-1-1

Commission Calendar
Nov. 24, 9:30 a.m.
Dec. 16, 9:30 a.m. 
 Dec. 30, 9:30 a.m. 
 What consumers are saying...
"Thank you - didn't know there was such an office here to help."
 - Barbara, Renton
Need Help?
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1-888-333-WUTC (9882)
I want to stay connected!
Welcome to the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) e-newsletter. If you have questions about UTC Connections, please e-mail consumer@utc.wa.gov.

The UTC works every day to protect consumers by ensuring that utility and transportation services are fairly priced, available, reliable and safe. This bi-monthly e-newsletter is intended to provide you with current information about
regulated industries, current issues and topics that impact you.
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Stay connected to news, events and more on the commission's Facebook page! Visit www.facebook.com/WAUTC and become a fan today!
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Managing Winter Energy Bills
This winter, prepare for higher energy bills by planning ahead. Sign up for your company's budget billing plan, a program that averages your bills over a 12-month period. If you need bill-payment assistance, contact your company to inquire about low-income or senior discounts and assistance programs.

If you need additional payment assistance, set up an appointment at your local community agency that distributes Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds. LIHEAP is a federally funded block grant that provides money to help low-income households make home heating more affordable and avoid disconnection of utility services. To find a LIHEAP agency near you, visit www.liheapwa.org.

For help dealing with utility billing disputes, service complaints, disconnect notices and more, contact the commission at 1-888-333-WUTC (9882) or consumer@utc.wa.gov.
Prepare for the Storm 
Forecasters are predicting an extremely cold and wet winter for the Pacific Northwest. Before storms hit, prepare your home and family. Stock up on rock salt to melt icy walkways, sand to improve driveway traction and shovels to remove snow. Prepare your home for isolation during a storm with plenty of alternative heating fuel like firewood and at least a three-day supply of food and water. Check your emergency kit now and replace any batteries, food or medicine that may have expired. Insulate pipes and water heaters and learn how to shut off water valves in case a pipe bursts. For more information on staying ahead of the storm, visit www.ready.gov.

Got Energy Vampires?

Looking for an easy way to reduce your energy usage? Eliminate pesky energy vampires by unplugging unused appliances and electronics. Many electronics and appliances continue to draw energy, even in standby or sleep mode. This constant electrical usage is called many things: "stand by," "idle current," "phantom load,"  "energy vampire," and "leaking electricity." Whatever you call it, stand-by energy waste can account for up to 20 percent of your home's electricity use, according the U.S. Department of Energy. The most common energy vampires are computers, printers, microwaves, televisions and cell-phone chargers. Avoid energy vampires by unplugging the appliances or using a power strip and switching off the surge protector to cut all power to the appliances. For more information on energy vampires, click here.

Natural Gas Safety
We use natural gas to power our homes and keep us warm, but are you familiar with natural gas safety precautions? Here are a few tips to remember when dealing with natural gas to protect your family and neighbors:
  • Natural gas smells like rotten eggs or sulfur. Use your nose. If you ever detect even a small amount of natural gas odor in the air, don't stay - get away. Then, contact your natural gas provider. If you don't know that number, dial emergency services, 9-1-1.
  • Look for the blue flame. If pilot lights and burners have a steady, blue flame, they are operating correctly. (Decorative gas fire logs are the only exception. Their flame is usually yellow.)
  • Have all gas appliances, furnaces, vents, flues, chimneys and gas lines in your home or business inspected every year or two by qualified industry professionals.
  • Don't ever store household chemicals or combustible materials near gas appliances.
  • Make sure there is at least one multipurpose fire extinguisher in your home or place of business.

For more information on natural gas safety, contact your company and have their incident-reporting number on hand in case of a leak.

What Do YOU Do When the Power Goes Out?
Windy winter storms bring power outages, and power outages bring cold, dark days and nights. The commission wants to hear from you! How do you stay safe when the power goes out? Do you have candles and flashlights ready? What activities does your family do to stay entertained? Do you break out the board games or read by the fire? Share your creative ideas for living like pioneers as we batten down the hatches for winter weather.

Join the conversation on our Facebook page! To share your ideas and keep us all safe and happy during power outages, click here.
What Can the UTC Do For You? Get Help
Do you need help with: 

When to Call the Commission
Consumer Help Line 
1-888-333-WUTC (9882) 
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