ENERGY National Fuel raises instead of cuts rates

ERIE, Pa. -- National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. raised its rates 6 percent, effective Wednesday, just three months after the company said it had planned to cut rates by 4.3 percent.
The company has about 214,000 customers in 14 northwestern Pennsylvania counties, including 30,000 in Mercer. It has none in Lawrence County.
Continuing cold weather, Middle East instability and higher crude oil prices forced it to rethink the rate cut, officials said.
Average cost
The increase will cost the average customer $4.64 more each month, meaning the average residential bill will jump from $79.14 to $83.78.
Companies can change their rates quarterly, subject to approval from the state Public Utility Commission.
National Fuel spokeswoman Nancy Taylor said it's too early to tell if another increase might be coming Aug. 1 -- when the rescinded rate cut was to have taken effect.
"It doesn't appear that prices are going to spike again," Taylor said. "But it is difficult to predict."

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