There is generally a delay of two months from the time the companies purchase fuel to the time it is billed to customers. For example, fuel purchased in May would be billed to customers in July. Most utilities also have tariffs that require them to change the fuel factor less frequently to minimize volatility. Due to this practice, the companies are required to maintain an over/under recovery account to ensure that only the actual cost of fuel, no more and no less, is billed to the consumers. This account is audited at least annually by PUD and sometimes other parties, including the Attorney General. This process can result in a fuel factor, or rate, that can be either a positive or negative adjustment, depending on the market.
It is also important to note that the commodity or fuel portion on your bill includes more than just the commodity cost. The companies are required to have other consumer protections in place which require additional costs to be passed on to ratepayers. These costs are directly associated with getting natural gas or electricity in to the regulated utilities distribution system. These costs include, but are not limited to transport, storage, and reservation fees.
How to follow your utilities Annual Fuel Review
Current fuel reviews can be monitored through the Commission's active energy cases on the Public Utility Division homepage.