Natural gas bills almost double
His appeal appears to have been misplaced, because the PUC actually encouraged Liberty to seek a higher rate.
"After discussions with PUC and the Office of the Consumer Advocate, they recommended we ask for an increase of 18 cents per therm," he continued. "This would reduce the projected under-collection of funds that would need to be recovered during next year's winter season. So we amended our request for increase to 18 cents per therm."
Passing along costs
Liberty serves 86,956 natural gas customers in communities located throughout the Merrimack River valley from Nashua to the Lakes Region, with some in Berlin as well.
Gas utilities are allowed to increase the price without PUC approval by as much as 25 percent between filings, to keep up with prices on the wholesale market, in what are called "trigger filings."
That's money that will be recovered from consumers in rate cases and trigger filings in the months ahead. The PUC encouraged the higher-than-requestd increase to soften the impact on customers by spreading the recovery over a longer period of time.
Utilities like Liberty are supposed to protect consumers from such wild price swings by ordering sufficient supplies well in advance of the heating season, and locking in a good price.
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