Mountaineer Gas customers will now pay 16.5 percent more for service.

The state Public Service Commission formally signed off on a $23 million rate increase this week. The rate hike is less than half of what the company wanted. Mountaineer Gas serves about 205,000 customers in 47 counties.

The average residential customer will pay about $98 a month, up from the current $84 a month.

Mountaineer Gas is owned by Allegheny Power. Allegheny's rates have been frozen since 1998, when it and several other natural gas utilities agreed to freeze rates in exchange for less PSC intervention. Allegheny's agreement expired yesterday.

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