Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Hamilton raises utility gas rate

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — City officials said the rising cost of buying natural gas wholesale has prompted them to increase customers' rates — for the second time in four months.

        The latest increase means the average residential cus tomer will pay about $8.96, or 16 percent, more on their monthly bill, effective Jan. 1. In October, city council members voted to approve a 35 percent gas rate increase.

        The recent gas increase was passed by a 4-3 vote last week.

        Deputy City Manager Mark Brandenburger said the city — which operates its own gas system — is obligated to pass the 10 percent increase in the gas cost re covery (GCR) rate to customers. The GCR is one of three components that make up customers' bills.

        “This is the pass-through portion,” he said. “It's the portion of how much does it cost the city to buy gas. So whatever the gas supplier down in Louisiana charges the city, the city passes through ... it's just the cost of the raw product.”

        Whenever the cost of natural gas increases, Mr. Bran denburger said, the city has to pass on the cost to customers.

        “This is simply passing on the cost increases we have experienced since we do not have any way to absorb them,” City Manager Steve Sorrell said.

        Mr. Brandenburger said even with the increase, Hamilton will be 19 percent cheaper than Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co.

        CG&E said recently the average Cincinnati-area residential gas customer can expect a natural gas bill next month about $95 higher than last January because colder weather is igniting wholesale gas prices.

        For information on Hamilton's financing program for paying gas bills, call 785-7100.


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