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Hearing set for Oct. 26 on proposal for 15% hike in National Fuel delivery charges

State regulators will hold a hearing on Oct. 26 in Buffalo on a request by National Fuel Gas Co. that would increase its natural gas delivery rates by an average of 15.3 percent.

The proposed rate increased, made by the company in April, would be the first increase in National Fuel’s delivery charges in nine years.

Because delivery charges make up only about half of a customer’s total bill, the overall impact of the proposed rate increase would be to increase the average residential customer’s total bill by about 7.2 percent, or $69, a year. A typical residential customer’s average monthly bill would rise from an average of about $80 a month to about $86.

The proposed increase, which would take effect in April 2017, affects only the rates National Fuel charges to deliver natural gas to their customers’ homes and businesses. Roughly half of a typical customer’s bill covers the actual cost of the natural gas, which National Fuel passes on to consumers at cost. The proposed increase would generate an additional $41.7 million in revenue for National Fuel.

The hearing will be split into two sessions, with an afternoon session beginning at 3 p.m. and an evening session starting at 6 p.m. Both sessions will be held at the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in downtown Buffalo.

The state Public Service Commission held a hearing on the proposed rate increase in June, with critics arguing that it would place an undue burden on low-income customers who can afford higher heating bills the least.

The hearing is part of an 11-month review of the rate proposal conducted by the PSC, which has the authority to make changes to the company’s plan.


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