MERCER COUNTY Gas utility reduces rate 24%

A decrease in the cost of gas enabled the company to make the reduction.
SHARON, Pa. -- National Fuel Gas has rolled back nearly all of the 24.5 percent rate increase imposed Feb. 1.
The company announced a 24 percent reduction in its gas cost rate, and it was effective Wednesday.
The filing with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission reflects the company's estimated gas costs through July 31, 2002.
A substantial decrease in the cost of gas in the marketplace enabled the company to make the reduction, said Sandra James of National Fuel.
The company had earlier predicted only a 14 percent reduction, she said.
Pennsylvania law doesn't permit utility companies to make any profit on the gas they buy to supply their customers. Those costs are passed directly on to the consumer, dollar-for-dollar.
National Fuel, faced with rising market costs for gas, raised the gas cost rate by 19 percent in September 1999 and an additional 24.5 percent Feb. 1 of this year.
The average residential bill rose to $1,486 per year but will drop to $1,129 annually under the latest rate change, the company said.
The utility company can adjust its gas cost rates on a quarterly basis.
National Fuel has 30,000 customers in Mercer County but none in Lawrence County.

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