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UGI Gas hike OK’d

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission Thursday approved a $19.75 million rate hike for UGI Penn Natural Gas but cut by more than half the company’s original request.

The increase to take effect today will likely be offset in December when the company passes on to customers the reduced rate it pays for the fuel, a UGI PNG spokesman said.

In May UGI PNG projected a 10 percent drop in its purchased gas cost rate as the price plummeted on the open market, said Joe Swope, a company spokesman.

“As of now we believe that figure is correct,” he said.

It can adjust the cost on Sept. 1, the next quarterly date of filing with the PUC. But, Swope said, no adjustment is necessary.

While customers wait for the lower commodity cost to take effect, the base rate will rise.

The typical residential heating customer who uses 107,000 cubic feet of natural gas per month will pay $10.33 or 7.9 percent more. The customer’s monthly bill will increase to $141.72 from $131.39, according to figures provided by the company.

Rates for commercial and industrial users will also rise, but at a less steep climb of approximately 2.8 percent.

UGIPNG filed for a base rate increase of $38.1 million in January to cover the cost of operating and maintaining the company’s distribution system in 13 counties in the northeastern and central parts of the state. It supplies natural gas to approximately 158,000 customers in its coverage areas.

The utility reached a settlement with the state’s Office of Consumer Advocate and others who challenged the hike that sliced the requested increase by 51 percent.

Swope said the company believes every dollar it asks for in a hike is warranted. He also acknowledged the request is subject to negotiation.

As for the new rate, he said, “We believe it’s a fair and equitable settlement.”

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