State regulatory staff recommended late yesterday that Puget Sound Energy reduce electric rates, not raise them, rejecting the company’s claim it needs additional revenue to cover power-supply costs. 

In July, PSE asked the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) for a 0.02 percent rate hike they say is needed largely to pay costs of operating three electricity-generating plants: Snoqualmie Falls, Lower Baker River and Ferndale.  

However, in testimony filed today, the UTC’s regulatory staff recommended the company lower electric revenues by 0.77 percent beginning Dec. 1. 

The three-member commission, which is not bound by the staff recommendation, will make a final decision on the utility’s request this fall. 

If the UTC adopts the Commission staff’s position, an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours would see his or her electric bill decrease by 0.81 percent beginning Dec. 1, or 79 cents a month, for an average bill of $96.29. The utility’s revenues would decrease by about $15.8 million a year.

Natural-gas rates are not affected by this matter.