|West Virginia's natural gas utilities are beginning to join the nation
in rate hikes as a
price freeze ends in November and December, 2001. Natural gas rates in
are going up by 100% and "easy times" for consumers will be over, the
agreements with the PSC now ending.|
Allegheny Power, owner of Mountaineer Gas, has petitioned the PSC for
increase for its 200,000 customers. The increase will allow an average
to increase from $84 to $121. Dominion Hope, which now owns the old
Hope Gas and
Consolidated Natural gas, intends to file for increases.
Allen Staggers, a spokesperson for the company, said there is no easy
way to tell
people they are going to pay more for natural gas. "Natural gas prices
since the beginning of 2000," he said.
"It is something that will change a lot of budgets," said Don Donovan,
for Dominion in Pittsburgh. Schools, businesses and large government
feel the crunch.
The $10 mcf gas price is a boom for producers. Dominion will spend $20
Appalachia this year, mostly on drilling.
Dramatic increases in energy prices poses a serious blow to rural
counties whose aging citizens operate on a fixed income, have incomes
the poverty level and few job opportunities.