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Home heating bills going up, but not nearly as high as requested

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National Fuel
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New York's Public Service Commission has approved a rate increase for National Fuel, but a much lower increase than the utility had requested. “Today’s decision lowers rates from what the company initially sought,” said Commission Interim Chairman Gregg 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."

The PSC said National Fuel had requested a delivery rate hike of $41.7 million. Instead, an increase of $5.9 million. was approved.

That translates to about an additional $13 per year - 1.4 percent - for National Fuel's 528,000 residential customers, instead of the $69 - 7.2 percent - the utility requested. The rate hike takes effect May first.

The PSC also directed that additional funding be put into National Fuel's low-income programs by December, which would provide $13.43 million in assistance.

National Fuel had argued that it has kept delivery rates steady for nearly a decade, has the lowest residential gas delivery rate in New York State and has invested more than $100 million in the past year for system enhancements and modernization. Spokesperson Karen Merkel said "certain aspects of today's decision are problematic." 

"National Fuel's total investments in its New York utility system is more than $400 million since 2008," said Merkel. "The NYS PSC is required by regulation, to ensure that all publicly-owned utilities are entitled to receive 'just and reasonable' compensation in the form of a fair return on equity (ROE) to compensate for the substantial investments needed to provide such service to customers."

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