OLYMPIA, Wash. (Legal Newsline) - A key portion of a decision that approved Puget Sound Energy's multi-year energy rate plan has been reversed, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson announced Wednesday.

Thurston County Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy's reversal could roll back automatic rate increases for PSE customers, the attorney general said.

In 2013, the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, or UTC, approved the rate plan for PSE that included automatic rate increases for customers starting in 2013 and continuing until 2016 or 2017.

Ferguson's Public Counsel Unit appealed the decision on behalf of PSE customers, as did Industrial Customers of NW Utilities, or ICNU. Both consumer advocates argued the rates approved in the plan were too high because they included a substantially high rate of return for PSE.

"This is an important win for PSE's ratepayers," Ferguson said. "The court's ruling will ensure that customers' rates under the multiyear plan will be fairly calculated.

"Our Public Counsel believes this ruling could potentially save residential and industrial customers as much as $10 million per year."

ICNU and Ferguson's Public Counsel Unit argued that rates should be about $10 million lower annually, given declining costs in capital markets and the reduced financial risk for PSE resulting from the plan.

Murphy ruled the case would be returned to UTC for additional legal proceedings to determine the rates.

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