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Thursday, May 1, 2008

PPL Wants To Raise Natural Gas Rates By 1/3

Lock Haven Express

ALLENTOWN — PPL Gas Utilities is asking the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for a 30.4 percent increase on the total monthly gas bill for an average residential customer.

According to the PPL release, the utility is proposing the increase, effective Dec. 1, as a result of “significantly higher natural gas costs throughout the nation.

If the rate request is approved by the PUC, the total monthly bill for a typical residential customer using 7 dekatherms of natural gas will increase from $115.78 to $150.96.

The total bill of typical commercial and industrial customers would increase by 37.5 percent and 40.2 percent respectively.

The PUC reviews and approves gas cost rates for Pennsylvania’s natural gas utilities annually. PPL Gas Utilities’ preliminary request is based on current and projected natural gas prices and could change, depending on what happens to natural gas prices before the PUC rules on the request in November.

“We understand that high energy prices place a heavy burden on our customers and on the communities we serve,” said Bob Geneczko, president of PPL Gas Utilities. “Although we try to shield our customers as much as possible from rising costs, we are faced with significant increases in costs to buy natural gas from our suppliers.”

PPL Gas Utilities does not produce its own natural gas and makes no profit from any price increases. Its business is delivering natural gas to its 76,000 customers through the company’s network of pipelines. It purchases gas for customers from a variety of suppliers and passes through the cost of those purchases without markup.

There are two major components of a customer’s gas bill. The largest component is the pass-through charge for the gas itself, which represents about 69 percent of the monthly bill. The second component, PPL Gas Utilities’ charge for delivery, accounts for about 31 percent of the bill.

According to the release, to help reduce the effects of rising natural gas prices on customers, PPL monitors prices daily and purchases supplies at the lowest available price. It also purchases gas during warm-weather months, when demand and prices are lower. The gas can then be stored underground for use in the winter.

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