Energy, State Government

Hope Gas customers may see smaller bills through new rate filing with PSC

MORGANTOWN – Hope Gas customers could see their gas bills drop through a recent filing with the state Public Service Commission.

The filing is Hope’s 2023 Purchased Gas Application, which gas companies are required to file annually to account for the cost of the natural gas they buy and distribute.

Hope’s application proposes a series of new rates for various types of customer, from resident to commercial and industrial.

For the average residential customer, Hope projects the monthly bill dropping by $19.60, a 16.93% decrease.

But the decrease won’t actually be that much. Hope points out in its application that is has another rate case before the PSC awaiting final approval, and that one is a rate hike. The two proposals will be factored together.

The rate hike is for its Pipeline Replacement and Expansion (PREP) program. State code allows the PSC “to approve cost recovery of projects to replace, upgrade and expand natural gas utility infrastructure that are deemed to be just and reasonable and in the public interest.”

The total proposed hike of $66,537,753 covers two Hope programs: its General Program for its core distribution system and its Gathering Program for gathering facilities. Hope estimates that the proposed rate hike will raise the monthly residential bill by $6.45 per month – 5.84%.

Hope explained that the proposed $6.45 hike would be subtracted from the $19.60 decrease, to give a projected rate cut of $13.15.

Pending PSC approval of both cases, Hope projects that the new rate would take effect Nov. 1, based on purchase costs for the period starting at that date.

Hope filed the Purchased Gas Application case in August. The PSC referred the decision to an administrative law judge, setting an Oct. 1 deadline for an interim decision and Mach 28, 2024, for its final decision.

In a memo filed Tuesday, PSC staff said it will audit Hope’s purchased gas expenses and deliver interim and final recommendations to the PSC within its specified time frame. Staff noted that some of the data in Hope’s application was estimated and not actual, and the PSC ordered Hope to file actual data for May and June of this year by Monday, Sept. 11.