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Local

Critics target proposed hike in natural gas rates

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Activists went out to Williamsville last night to protest the request of National Fuel to raise its charges for delivering natural gas.

The state Public Service Commission held a hearing in the Amherst Town Hall, with another today in the Jamestown Municipal Building. National Fuel wants a hike just over seven percent.

"If this is approved, when it goes into effect, it will be 10 years that our customers have had stable delivery rates," explained National Fuel spokesperson Karen Merkel while pointing out that the lower current gas prices mean lower gas bills.

"The rate proposal that is in front of the PSC right now is a continued focus on safety and reliability of both our pipeline and infrastructure as well as our customer service information technology."

National Fuel would gain about  $42 million a year if the entire request is approved.

The numbers didn't sit well with many of those who attended the meeting. According to activist Dennis Barr, choosing a suburban site for the session was mistake. He believes officials should have brought it to "where the people are and they can come and they can hear what it is that you're talking about."

For Barr and others, a city neighborhood would have been more appropriate.

"As seniors, they don't have the capacity to come out to a neighborhood like this."

To accommodate as many as possible, the activists rented a bus for the trip to the suburbs.