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Recently approved natural gas rate increases kick-in this week

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Natural gas rates increased in West Virginia Monday.

The state Public Service Commission has approved winter rates and this year, unlike recent years, the rates have significantly increased.

With natural gas prices up about four times the price this time last year, the utilities are paying more to purchase gas. They are permitted to seek reimbursement of those costs from the PSC.

The requests were made in September and approved recently by the PSC.

The largest natural gas utility, Mountaineer Gas, is raising rates 34.3% which is a $1.45 increase in Mcf over last winter’s rate. Mountaineer’s Mcf rate is now $5.67.

Mountaineer Gas spokesman Moses Skaff said the purchase gas rate is strictly a ‘pass-through’ charge.

“The company or any gas company doesn’t make any money off of the cost of the gas. That’s what’s called a Public Service Commission tariff,” Skaff said.

Natural gas is more expensive this year based on supply and demand. Skaff said that also impacts West Virginia where natural gas is located.

“You’d think that wouldn’t be an issue but getting gas to suppliers is always an issue. It’s very much market-driven,” he said.

The average Mountaineer customer uses 6 Mcf per month, according to Skaff.

“This increase would essentially equate to about $8.70 per month to the average customer,” Skaff said.

The PSC also approved 16.7% rate increase for Hope Gas/Dominion Gas, which has the second most customers among gas utilities in West Virginia. The approval represents a 49-cent increase per Mcf.

Additionally, the commission approved increases for Peoples Gas, Consumer Gas Utility, Union Oil & Gas and Southern Public.

Last winter natural gas utilities paid a lot less for gas and lower rates were approved for 96% of natural gas customers in the state.

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