Less than two weeks after National Fuel announced a plan to cut its base delivery rate, the average National Fuel residential customer is paying almost 15 percent more a month for the natural gas itself.

National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. said Monday that the increase primarily is due to higher market prices for natural gas, which has increased the cost of natural gas that National Fuel buys for customers.

National Fuel has submitted its annual adjustment to gas supply charges to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. It raises the bill of residential customer with annual usage of 101,100 cubic feet of gas by more than $10 a month. That customer bill rises from $69.61 to $79.92 a month — an increase of $10.31 cents or 14.8 percent. The increase went into effect Sunday.

The gas supply cost rate is the rate National Fuel pays for natural gas from its suppliers.

Natural gas utilities can’t make a profit on the cost of gas they buy from suppliers under commission regulations. The gas costs must be passed on to consumers on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

The purchase gas cost rate is adjusted quarterly to account for marketplace changes in the price of natural gas. National Fuel may adjust its purchased gas cost rate each Aug. 1, Nov. 1, Feb. 1 and May 1.

National Fuel's price-to-compare gas commodity charge also increases to $0.49614 (or 49.614 cents) per 100 cubic feet (ccf). This reference point, detailed on the National Fuel bill under Gas Supply Charges, is important for customers who are shopping for an alternate gas supplier.

On July 22, National Fuel filed a request with the commission to adjust another rate downward, effective Oct. 1.

If approved, it would give a one-time bill credit of $100 to current active residential customers plus reduce base delivery rate by about $4.42 a month for the average customer for five years.

The credit and proposed base delivery rate reduction, if approved by the commission, would help to offset the impact of the increase in monthly gas supply charges described, according to National Fuel.

If the base delivery rate reduction is approved by the commission, the net overall increase in the typical residential customer's bill would be $5.89, starting Oct. 1. It would make the typical monthly residential natural gas bill $75.50 a month, according to a Tribune calculation.

Keith Gushard can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at kgushard@meadvilletribune.com.

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