National Fuel raising rates for customers

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – National Fuel Gas customers will soon see a rate increase in their monthly bill following a rate hike approval from the New York State Public Service Commission Thursday.

The commission said it had lowered National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation’s original requested rate hike of $41.7 million.  If that rate increase passed, the average residential heating customer would have seen their annual bill increase by $69. The commission instead gave the natural gas utility a one-time rate increase of $5.9 million.

The average residential heating customer will see an annual bill increase of $13 and the average monthly residential bill will go to $80.66 a month – up from $79.55 a month. The rate increase is effective May 1, 2017.

“Today’s decision lowers rates from what the company initially sought,” said Commission Interim Chairman Gregg C. Sayre. “Furthermore, this decision will provide NFG with sufficient revenues for it to supply safe and adequate service at just and reasonable rates, and it will increase funding for assistance to low-income customers at a time when other low-income funding assistance sources are significantly threatened.”

“This is the first delivery rate increase sought by our Utility segment in almost a decade. While prices for goods and services have risen generally over this period, the Utility has held delivery rates steady, without increase, since 2008,” said Carl M. Carlotti, President of National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation.

The Commission also approved authorizations to recover costs to update National Fuel’s customer information systems, increasing funding for accelerated leak prone pipe replacement and providing additional funding for the company’s low income program.

The Commission was able to reduce National Fuel’s request by reducing the company’s expected expenses for the coming year and reducing the company’s shareholders rate of return by $12 million. Reductions were made to the company’s operation and maintenance costs, labor costs, pension costs, uncollectible debt, property tax, and depreciation expense.