Dominion Hope customers could see their monthly bill drop by about 26 percent this winter.

It is a temporary reduction.

The rate reduction is the result of a proposed settlement between Clarksburg-based Dominion Hope and state regulators - a trade off.

The settlement would end two rate cases from 2005 and 2006 in which Dominion Hope sought to raise rates to recover gas costs.

It also includes a rate reduction for 2007 that the utility requested in August.

Under the settlement, Dominion Hope would pay about $2.3 million dollars to its customers between November 1st and March 31st.

The state Public Service Commission originally had asked the utility to pay $3.8 million dollars.

Billy Jack Gregg, head of the PSC's Consumer Advocate Division, says a customer who uses 13 m-c-f of gas per month would pay $30.60 less this winter, from $215.60 per month to $185.

M-c-f is 1,000 cubic feet of gas.

The proposed settlement must be approved by the PSC.

Dominion Hope says it agreed to the settlement so that its sale to Equitable Resources can move forward.