MERCER COUNTY — National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. is raising rates 7.3 percent, effective today.
The rate hike will raise the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 90,000 cubic feet of gas annually by $5.55, to $81.39 from $75.84. It will bring the residential price to compare to 0.64057 cents per thousand cubic feet – an important reference point for customers shopping for an alternate gas supplier.
The rate hike comes under the quarterly adjustment to gas supply charges. A utility is allowed to adjust the price of natural gas costs each quarter to residential customers.
By law, a utility isn’t allowed to profit on the price it charges for natural gas. A utility gets its profits by charging a basic rate – which is delivery of the natural gas. NFG’s basic rate has been unchanged since 2007.
“This increase is directly related to the increase in the market price of gas and reflects the cost of gas that has been, and will be, purchased by the company for its customers,’’ said Sandra James, an NFG spokeswoman. “The prolonged, colder-than-normal winter resulted in increased demand for natural gas to heat homes and businesses. That demand, in turn, resulted in an increase in the market price of natural gas.’’
She noted NFG was able to avoid a gas cost hike for the quarter that began Feb. 1.
NFG serves about 209,000 customers in 14 northwestern Pennsylvania counties including Mercer Counties.
NFG customers having trouble paying their bills are encouraged to call the utility at 800-365-3234 to find out about payment programs and available services.