PSC staff recommend tiny rate hike in one of two cases for area Cardinal Gas customers

MORGANTOWN – Cardinal Natural Gas customers in Monongalia, Preston, Marion and Harrison counties are awaiting Public Service Commission decisions on two rate-hike proposals.

One is an overall base rate case with the PSC on March 27 that covers both Cardinal’s northern and southern divisions.

The other is a tiny hike that would involve just part of Cardinal’s northern division – Preston, Marion and Harrison – and would total about 33 cents per month. But a new memorandum from PSC staff recommends an even smaller hike – just 30 cents.

Cardinal proposed a 33 cent monthly increase in the average bill to account for excess revenue – called an over-recovery – from Cardinal’s Infrastructure Replacement and Expansion Program (IREP) in Kingwood. The project to extend service to an unserved portion of Preston County took in $5,487 more than necessary in 2023.

PSC staff has recommended the smaller, 30 cent increase based on factors that include a smaller over-recovery, $5,814, based on a difference in property tax expenses.

Cardinal has two divisions, northern (Preston, Marion, Harrison and Monongalia) and southern (Mercer). The northern division has two territories: Lumberport-Shinnston and Blacksville. Blacksville is not included in the 30-cent rate hike because it has not undertaken any IREP improvements there.

Initial reporting on this case referred to it as a proposed 33 cent rate cut, based on testimony by a Cardinal official who called it a rate decrease based on the over-recovery. But a review of the math and charts and staff comments in the new memo show the testimony was incorrect.

Following PSC approval, this hike would take effect Sept. 1.

In the March base rate case, Cardinal is asking for a total $370,911 increase for the northern division – an overall 5.92% increase.

Blacksville residential customers would see an $8.41 monthly increase, 10.36%. Lumberport-Shinnston customers would see a smaller increase: $7.28, 6.59%.

Cardinal says this proposed rate hike stems from increased operating costs. A hearing in the case is set for Oct. 10. The new rate would take effect Jan. 21, 2025.

Email: dbeard@dominionpost.com