Business Briefs

Utilities commission approves PSNC rate hike

Posted June 30, 2008

— You could be paying more to stay warm this winter.

A month after it approved a 16 percent natural gas rate increase for PSNC Energy, the North Carolina Utilities Commission on Monday approved an additional 15 percent rate increase.

The new rates, which go into effect Tuesday, mean the typical household bill will be about $3.64 more a month in the summer and $21.38 more in the winter.

Combined with May's increase, that would mean an additional $40 a month on the average bill from November through April, which are considered the winter months.

The natural gas company, which is not allowed to make a profit on fuel purchases, said it needs the increase to pay for rising natural gas costs.

PSNC public affairs officer Angie Townsend said the rate increase is a pass-through charge to customers, meaning the company is passing on to customers the added cost it pays for natural gas.

She admits it is unusual to see such spikes during the summer months.

"This is unprecedented," she said. "Prices on the wholesale market this summer have already surpassed record levels for this time of year."

Jeff Davis, the utility commission's consumer advocate, said it is difficult to explain why the increase in the price of natural gas, but says it is a problem nationwide.

"No one knows. It could be speculation. It could be tied to oil prices," he said.

The Gastonia-based PSNC serves more than 450,000 natural gas customers in North Carolina; about 40 percent of its customers are in the Triangle.

Residential customers, like Benny Morris, say the increase – along with the rising costs of fuel and groceries – means figuring out where to cut back on other expenses.

"It's hurting right much," Morris said. "It sure don't let up. What are we going to do?"

PSNC does offer what it calls an easy-payment plan in which the utility estimates a customer's bills for the next year and spreads that amount into 12 equal, monthly payments.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • dws Jun 30, 2008

    lol, unbelievable

  • hooptie1964 Jun 30, 2008

    All of you griping and complaining do realize the price of fuel (gas, oil, coal, etc.) is going up all across the world? It's not just in the U.S.

    We (Americans) have long enjoyed depressed energy prices which are now begining to come in-line with prices and rates seen across the world. While it was nice it was not something that would last.

    Lifestyles are going to adjust and people will figure out how to get along without some of the pampering. Don't just sit behind a computer and complain - do something for yourself to get ahead in life.

  • CrewMax Jun 30, 2008

    I have gas, but it aint natural.

  • dws Jun 30, 2008

    AND, just a little extra not mentioned in WRAL's story:

    "Still pending before the state N.C. Utilities Commission is the utility’s separate request for an increase on its base rate, which covers the profit a utility is allowed to make. PSNC says the increase would help it recoup the cost of building infrastructure."

    wow, I just get a warm feeling.....

  • Beachnut Jun 30, 2008

    Actually, 15% plus 16% is 33.4% if you include the effect of compounding...

  • delilahk2000 Jun 30, 2008

    I guess my post was a little to harsh and right on for you to POST.

  • wildervb Jun 30, 2008

    Just use less if the price is higher. I couple of weeks ago the weather was relatively mild, highs in the upper 80s, lows in the low 60s. I opened my windows and went a week without AC before things got to hot again. On one of those mornings I walked around my neighborhood, I was curious as to how many people had noticed the cooler weather and opened their windows. I was surprised to find that I was the only one in the neighborhood who had. We're such a nation of complainers, we demand cheap gas, cheap electric as if its a right! What ever happened to being a little bit frugal, to using a little less?

  • busyb97 Jun 30, 2008

    "...the recessed economy the bushwhacker has delivered."

    This has nothing to do with the USA and the Bush administration- it is directly related to the price of oil- which is being driven higher by WORLD market demand and by the analysts or whoever keeps doing all their speculating. It is a huge domino effect. Things cost more to ship/process these days.

    People are complaining employers aren't giving pay raises to go along with the increased cost-of-living...well, if they start doing that, then more people will get laid off. Are you willing to take the gamble that you'd be among those getting the meager pay raise, or among the hundreds that would get laid off? Lay-offs will hurt our economy even more.

    Try this- DO A BUDGET! and cut back unnecessary spending in your own home- just like we expect government to do. Practice conservation in all areas- not just water. We have little control- but some things we CAN do.

  • delilahk2000 Jun 30, 2008

    i thought you posted my voice

  • motorfinga Jun 30, 2008

    Another fall out knife in the back of Americans by the Bush/Cheney criminal junta's disasterous economy.

    Had enough?