WHEELING - As gasoline prices and electric bills continue to increase, Mountaineer Gas Co. customers could soon see as much as a 10.8 percent break on their natural gas bills.
Mountaineer recently filed a request with the Public Service Commission of West Virginia to lower the price it pays for its natural gas supply by $1.13 per unit, each of which includes 1,000 cubic feet of gas. The potential change - that could take effect as early as Nov. 1 - would affect about 219,000 customers, including those in Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel, Brooke, Hancock and Tyler counties.
If approved, the average annual residential bill will decrease by $81.36.
LINE REPAIR — Crews from Mountaineer Gas Co. dig a deep trench into the northbound lane of Chapline Street as they continue working to replace a gas line Thursday. -- Tyler Reynard
"We are very pleased that our customers will be realizing the benefit of the lower costs of natural gas services," said Tom M. Taylor, president of Mountaineer Gas Co. "Our core mission is to provide safe and reliable natural gas service to our customers at the best available price."
The public service commission annually makes modifications to this portion of the rate structure, which is based on Mountaineer's gas supply plans and the current projections of natural gas market conditions. The adjustment of purchased gas expenses are passed through to customers with no markup or profit margin.
In addition to the request to reduce customer costs, Mountaineer has a separate request before the commission to slightly increase the company's base rate. If the commission grants both of Mountaineer's requests, a typical residential customer using about 72 units per year would still be expected to save about $40.56 or 5.4 percent over the next year.
Though Mountaineer officials could not be reached for further comment, the increased supply of natural gas - partially due to the local Marcellus and Utica shale drilling operations - has reduced the price of the product over the past couple of years.
Companies like Mountaineer and Columbia Gas of Ohio market to consumers the dry methane-dominated gas, which is separated from the natural gas liquids - ethane, propane, butane and pentane - by companies like Dominion Resources, Williams Partners or MarkWest Energy.
Although the cost of the methane dry gas has declined, drillers like Chesapeake Energy, Stone Energy and Trans Energy continue drilling in northern West Virginia and eastern Ohio because of the valuable natural gas liquids.