Susquehanna County Gas Company Raising Rates 33.2% Even Though County is Top Gas Producer

Explainer: So Why Does A Susquehanna County Gas Company Have To Raise Rates 33.2% When Susquehanna County Is The #1 Shale Gas Producer In PA?

By David E. Hess | PA Environment Digest | September 9, 2022

On September 19, the Public Utility Commission is holding a hearing on a proposed 33.2 percent rate increase for the Leatherstocking Gas Company that provides natural gas service to 450 residential and commercial gas customers in Susquehanna County.  Read more here.

The company’s slogan “Local Gas For Local People” is based on the fact the Independent Fiscal Office reports Susquehanna County is the #1 shale gas producer in the state and has been for some time.  Read more here.

According to Leatherstocking’s website, their cost of natural gas increased from $2.9365/MCF in November 1, 2020 to $3.5469/MCF in November 1, 2021 to $9.4244/MCF in July 1, 2022. 

The latest natural gas cost far exceeds any price they paid since November 1, 2016, according to the website.

But having access to local natural gas and paying a reasonable price for it are in no way related because the price customers pay is set on international markets, not by the cost of producing that gas right under our feet.

The U.S. price of natural gas increased 525 percent since June 2020 and hit a 14-year high this month causing the price of natural gas directly used by customers to increase dramatically in Pennsylvania, but also caused a surge in the cost of electricity because a significant portion of electric generation is now natural gas-fired.  Read more here.

On August 10, the Public Utility Commission warned customers of five major electric utilities will increase their electricity prices, 4 of the 5 will increase from 11.4 percent to 19 percent.  Read more here.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration has also warned U.S. retail electricity prices nationwide will continue to rise driven by rising natural gas prices.  Read more here.

Another factor in U.S. natural gas price spikes is very clear– exports of natural gas through LNG terminals to high-priced European and Asian markets is helping to dramatically increase U.S. natural gas costs.

That relationship was seen clearly after a fire and explosion at a Texas LNG export terminal closed it in June.  Natural gas prices immediately fell in the U.S. because more natural gas would be available for U.S. customers. 

And, natural gas has continued to spike or drop in response to rumors the Texas LNG plant is reopening– price spikes up– and when the reopening date slips further into the future– the price drops.  Read more here.

The reasons for these U.S. price spikes and drops can be easily tracked by reading the daily business media– Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Bloomberg and the Financial Times.

All PA Natural Gas Suppliers Dramatically Increased Prices

The cost of natural gas provided to customers by the seven largest natural gas utilities in Pennsylvania increased from 31 percent to 154.6 percent over the last year, according to information from the Public Utility Commission.

Peoples Gas Company residential rates increased the most– 154.6 percent– and Columbia Gas customers saw the lowest increase– 31.2 percent.

The major natural gas utilities saw these increases–

— Peoples Gas Co. (residential) 154.6% increase

— Philadelphia Gas Works  152.2% increase

— Peoples Natural Gas Co. 142.3% increase

— National Fuel Gas  134.7% increase

— PECO Gas  86.3% increase

— UGI Gas Division  41.5% increase

— Columbia Gas  31.2% increase

Natural gas customers are seeing the biggest increase in energy charges because of the natural gas cost spikes on foreign energy markets caused by the Russian war in Ukraine and by increasing exports of U.S. natural gas in the form of LNG to Europe and Asia.  [Read more here.]

Over half of Pennsylvania households use natural gas as their primary home heating fuel.  [Read more here.]

On August 10, the Public Utility Commission also warned customers of major electric utilities their rates will increase by as much as 19 percent this quarter starting on September 1.  These increases are also driven by the cost of natural gas-fired generation and hot weather demand.  [Read more here.]

Both natural gas and electric utilities adjust the rates they charge their customers for energy every quarter, either up or down, depending on the price of natural gas or electricity they buy.

Shop For Competitive Rates

Customers of both natural gas and electric utilities can shop for independent providers of natural gas and electricity and are not locked in to the price charged by utilities.

Only 14 percent of residential customers got their natural gas from competitive suppliers in 2020.  [Read more here.]

Natural gas customers can go to the PUC’s  PA Gas Switch website and electric customers to PA Power Switch websites to learn more about their options.

Next Quarterly Rate Changes

The next quarterly rate increases/decreases by natural gas companies will be starting September 1, October 1 and November 1, depending what schedule the utilities are on.

Here are the details of how utility natural gas charges increased in the past year, along with their next expected quarterly rate change date–

National Fuel Gas  134.7% increase

   May 1, 2021 Annual Review  $3.8520

   August 1, 2022                     $9.0436

   Nov. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

Philadelphia Gas Works  152.2% increase

   June 1, 2021 Annual Review $3.5700

   June 1, 2022                         $9.0057

   Sept. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

Columbia Gas  31.2% increase

   July 1, 2021 Annual Review $3.8512

   July 1, 2022                         $5.0583

   Oct. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

Peoples Gas Co. (residential) 154.6% increase

   July 1, 2021 Annual Review  $4.0174

   July 1, 2022                         $10.2312

   Oct. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

Peoples Natural Gas Co.   142.3% increase

   July 1, 2021 Annual Review $3.9015

   July 1, 2022                         $9.4567

   Oct. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

UGI Gas Division  41.5% increase

   Sept. 1, 2021 Annual Review $5.1283

   June 1, 2022                        $7.2615

   Sept. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

PECO Gas  86.3% increase

   Sept. 1, 2021 Annual Review $4.0245

   June 1, 2022                        $7.5016

   Sept. 1, 2022 (next increase/decrease)

Click Here for a table showing 2021 – 2022 quarterly price changes and next scheduled changes.

Click Here for a table showing 2022 – 2023 quarterly prices changes and next scheduled changes.

NewsClips:

— Altoona Mirror: Penelec Raises Electricity Rates 18.69% Due To Natural Gas Price Spikes

— Wilkes-Barre Times: UGI To Increase Natural Gas Rates Due To ‘Increased Global Demand’

— Standard Speaker: UGI Natural Gas Rates To Rise 7.6% Sept. 1, The 5th Hike In 15 Months

— Meadville Tribune: National Fuel Raises Natural Gas Rates To Residential Customers 26% Due To High Natural Gas Prices

— PUC Aug. 11 Hearing On Proposed 11.8% Rate Increase For Valley Energy Natural Gas

— PUC To Investigate Proposed 32% Natural Gas Rate Increase By Leatherstocking Gas Company

— Inquirer – Andrew Maykuth: How To Save On Energy Costs: Fuel Oil Up 70%, Natural Gas Up 38%, Electricity Up 14% (Driven By Natural Gas)

— Pittsburgh Business Times: PUC Warns About Rising Electrical Rates Caused By Spike In Natural Gas Cost, Other Commodities, According To West Penn Power

— Utility Dive: U.S. EIA: Retail Electricity Prices Continue Rapid Rise Driven By Rising Natural Gas Prices

— Inquirer – Andrew Maykuth: PECO’s Electricity Price Going Up 11%, Met Ed Going Up 18.4% Because Of Spike In Natural Gas Costs

— PennLive: Electric Utilities Raising The Cost Of Their Electricity Up To 19% Starting Sept. 1

— Reuters: America Exports Natural Gas, Imports High Price

— Reuters: U.S. Natural Gas Prices Fall 5% On Delay On Texas LNG Plant Restart

— Reuters: U.S. Natural Gas Jumps 8% On Talk Of Higher Flows To Texas LNG Plant

Related Articles – Natural Gas Cost:

— Guest Essay: Key To Lower Energy Prices And Energy Freedom Is Diversifying Electricity Generation With Solar, Renewable Energy – By Sharon Pillar, Pennsylvania Solar Center  [PaEN]

— PA PUC: Cost Of Natural Gas Provided By Major Utilities In PA Increased As Much As 154% Over Last Year [PaEN]

— PUC: 4 Major Electric Utilities Have Double Digit Electric Price Increases Coming Sept. 1 Caused By Spike In Natural Gas, Energy Costs, Hot Weather [PaEN]

— Independent Fiscal Office Reports Decline In PA Natural Gas Production For 2nd Quarter In A Row For First Time; But An Increase In New Wells Drilled  [PaEN]

NewsClips:

— Observer-Reporter: Public Invited To Oct. 5 Meeting On Shale Gas Health Studies

— TribLive: University Of Pittsburgh’s School Of Public Health Recruiting Southwest PA Families For Childhood Cancer Study Related To Shale Gas Development  

University Of Pittsburgh – 3 Health Studies:

— Center For Coalfield Justice Hosts Oct. 5 Public Meeting On PA Health Studies Of Natural Gas Development In Southwest PA  [PaEN]

— University Of Pittsburgh School Of Public Health Recruiting Families In Southwest PA For Study Of Childhood Cancer, One Of 3 Studies Of Potential Health Impacts Linked To Shale Natural Gas Development [PaEN]

Related Articles This Week:

— Conventional Oil & Natural Gas Companies Accelerating Pace Of Abandoning Wells Without Plugging Them Threatening To Put PA’s Taxpayer-Funded Well Plugging Program Even Further Behind  [PaEN]

— Exceptional Value Water Quality Designation, State Forest Land, River Honors Were Not Enough To Protect Loyalsock Creek From Natural Gas Drilling & Pipelines In Lycoming County – By Friends Of The ‘Sock   [PaEN]

— Natural Gas, Hazardous Liquids Pipelines Are NOT Required To Carry Insurance Or Show They Can Pay For Damages If They Explode, Leak Or Kill Someone  [PaEN]

— WHYY: Environmentalists Decry DRBC Permit Extension Approval For LNG Natural Gas Terminal In South Jersey To Export PA Natural Gas  –  By Zoe Read, WHYY, with Jon Hurdle of NJ Spotlight contributing [PaEN]

— House Environmental Committee To Hold Sept. 20 ‘Wellhead To Stovetop’ Hearing On Natural Gas In PA; Will They Mention $70 Million In Pipeline Penalties Assessed So Far?  [PaEN]

— DEP Public Notices: Oil & Gas Industry Facilities Sept. 10 PA Bulletin  [PaEN]

— New Book Edited By Researchers From 3 Pittsburgh Universities Now Available On The Environmental Impacts From The Development Of Unconventional Oil & Gas Reserves  [PaEN]

[Posted: September 9, 2022] | Source

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