SHARON, PA. Rate increase hits natural gas users

National Fuel Gas also raised rates in May.
SHARON, Pa. -- National Fuel Gas customers saw their gas rates go up 5.1 percent Thursday.
The gas supply company said the increases are necessary to offset anticipated rising costs it must pay for natural gas.
State regulations allow utilities to adjust gas cost rates on a quarterly basis to reflect market price changes. They are not allowed to make a profit on those costs.
It was the second National Fuel increase in three months.
First increase
The company raised its gas cost rate 6 percent May 1, citing continuing cold weather, Middle East instability and higher crude oil prices as the reasons for the increase.
"Recent fluctuations in the market price of natural gas have made this increase necessary," said Sandra James, assistant director of corporate communications for National Fuel, in announcing the 5.1 percent increase.
The increase will raise the monthly bill of the average residential customer $4.31, from $83.78 to $88.09.
Rates are still lower than at this time last year and more than $3 per 1,000 cubic feet lower than the record prices experienced in the spring 2001, James added.
National Fuel serves about 214,000 customers in 14 northwestern Pennsylvania counties, including about 30,000 in Mercer County but none in Lawrence County.

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