The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

August 1, 2013

Natural gas bills hiked

$6 more a month on average


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MERCER COUNTY — Effective Friday, National Fuel will raise the monthly bill of its average customers by nearly $6, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the gas company.

The 7.85 percent annual adjustment occurs because “the main driver of the increase is high gas adjustment charges,” said Sandra James, director of corporate communications.

“By law, National Fuel cannot make a profit on the natural gas sold to our customers. The company often sees a timing difference between the cost of gas purchased  and the amount recovered from customers from the commodity. The gas cost adjustment can be a charge or a credit, depending on these timing differences and market conditions,” she said.

The monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 90,000 cubic feet annually from $73.99 to $79.79.

Gas supply charges account for nearly half of a typical home heating bill and reflect the market price of the gas used, the pipeline and storage costs associated with gas purchases made, and any gas adjustment charges for the over or under collection of gas costs from previous years.

James said gas adjustment charges ensure the company only collects the exact amount of money for gas that is bought for customers. Utility companies are allowed to update gas supply charges on a quarterly basis, as needed, to reflect changes in the market price of natural gas. The next allowed adjustment is on Nov. 1.

Gas companies are allowed to make a profit on delivery service charges and represent the “company’s cost of doing business,” James said. National Fuel’s delivery service charges has remained the same since January 2007.

Those charges are set by the state’s Public Utility Commission.

Residential customers comparing the costs with another provider need to note that National Fuel’s residential price for comparison purposes is $.59945 per hundred cubic feet, James said.

There are a number of programs available to help those who have trouble paying their gas bill. Those services are listed on the company’s website at www.nationalfuelgas.com or by calling 1-800-365-3234.

National Fuel serves 213,000 customers in 14 counties in northwest Pennsylvania.