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Southwest Gas rates may rise

Sun News Service

Southwest Gas Corporation filed a request Wednesday, Sept. 14 with the California Public Utilities Commission for an $11.4 million increase in rates for natural gas customers living in California.

If the request is approved, rates in Northern California would increase an average winter bill by $25.02 per month or 27.9 percent for residential customers. In Southern California rates would increase an average winter bill by $7.24, or 12.2 percent.

Roger Montgomery, Southwest Gas vice president of pricing, cited the rising cost of natural gas as the primary reason for the increase.

“Spot prices that Southwest Gas is paying for natural gas this summer have increased more than 50 percent since May,” Montgomery said, “And the exception is for continued high prices.”

Natural gas prices are deregulated and rise and fall in response to market conditions. Montgomery noted that any increase or decrease in the company’s purchased gas costs is passed along to customers dollar-for-dollar. There is no profit or loss to the company.

The gas company has not filed for a Purchased Gas Adjustment in almost three years. If the PUC approves the price increase, Southwest Gas requests the increase take effect as early as Nov. 1.

Southwest Gas Corporation provides natural gas service to nearly 18,000 homes and residents in Northern Californian and 102,000 in the Victor Valley, Big Bear, Barstow and Needles in Southern California.

The gas company began construction on Truckee’s natural gas distribution system in 1996, and expects to have the system complete by 2003.

Currently approximately 7,000 area residents have signed up for natural gas.


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