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The Public Service Commission will be considering lowering natural gas rates for Chautauqua County's businesses and industries and may issue an order early next month.

Administrative Law Judge Frank S. Robinson has recommended the changes in the National Fuel Gas rate case.

He wrote that transportation rates for medium volume customers and manufacturers should remain the same, transportation rates for large volume customers should be lowered and a service rate for all businesses and industries should be reduced.

Medium volume customers would include establishments the size of Brooks Memorial Hospital or Alumax Extrusions Inc; large volume customers would include Red Wing Co. Inc., Al Tech Specialty Steel Corp., and the College at Fredonia.

In explaining the changes, Michael Bobseine, executive director of the Northern Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce, said the cost of providing gas service to residential customers was higher than providing service to industrial users. However, the industrial users have been paying a higher rate for the gas in relation to the rates for the residential users.

If the PSC adopts the decision, rates for residential users may increase, Bobseine concluded.

David Dawson, executive director of the Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency, said that the judge recognizes the significance of lower rates for business and industry in helping firms now in the area and as a tool for future economic development.

The case was brought by the Chautauqua Coalition, made up of the Northern Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce, the Manufacturers Association of the Jamestown Area, the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York. The Chautauqua County Industrial Development Agency acted as the coordinator of the effort.

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