Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE:NWN), today reported that results of operations for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2011, produced a seasonal net loss of $8.3 million or 31 cents per share compared to a net loss of $7.4 million or 28 cents per share in the same quarter last year.

For the nine months ended September 30, 2011, net income was $34.7 million or $1.30 per share, which compares to $43.1 million or $1.62 per share for the same period in 2010. Both periods include the effects of repealed utility tax legislation in Oregon as noted last quarter. Included in the nine-month period of 2011 was a second-quarter charge of $4.4 million after-tax, or 17 cents per share, compared to income of $2.9 million after-tax or 11 cents per share in 2010, from utility tax legislation. Results for 2010 also include the previously disclosed net refund of property taxes received in the first quarter of 2010 of $6.1 million or 14 cents per share.

Rate decreases approved for 2011-12 heating season for customers

NW Natural received approval to pass on more than 2 percent rate decreases to residential customers in Oregon and Washington, effective Nov. 1, 2011. These rate reductions result in the lowest billing rates in seven years for the company’s residential customers.

Rates are established each year under purchased gas adjustment (PGA) mechanisms in Oregon and Washington to reflect the expected cost of natural gas commodity purchases, which includes the company’s cost of gas in inventory and its gas purchases hedged with financial derivatives. The company updated its PGA prices for Oregon and Washington customers in mid-October, and the new rates went into effect Nov. 1, 2011.

Under the company’s PGA incentive sharing mechanism in Oregon, the company also selected a 90:10 sharing ratio for customers and shareholders related to commodity gains or losses in Oregon for the 2011-12 heating season. In Washington, all gas costs are passed through to customers.

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