Utility seeks charge to recover gas expenses

Thursday, March 29th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Oklahoma Natural Gas Co. wants permission from state regulators for a temporary increase of $5.50 a month in customer bills to help recover expenses for gas purchased from suppliers.

ONG also wants to raise rates for the gas component of customers' bills by an additional 50 cents to $7.09 per dekatherm, a heat value that equates to about 1,000 cubic feet in volume.

The gas company's request was to be considered Friday by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

If approved, the extra $5.50 charge would be collected monthly from April through October. Residential customers who qualify for government energy assistance and ONG's low-income rates would be charged only an additional $2.75 a month, the company said Thursday.

The company said the extra charges are needed to help it recover $63.3 million it owes for gas purchased during winter.

The costs were deferred by the commission in order to help consumers at a time when gas prices were highest and consumption was up due to the cold.

ONG said it wants to recover the expense before heating season next winter in order to avoid imposing additional costs on consumers when prices and consumption would again rise.

The gas company said even with the adjustment, a typical resident's bill would decline by an average 30 percent in April from the previous month because an anticipated seasonal drop in demand.

In March, ONG customers paid an average bill of $116.89 and consumed 11.9 dekatherms of gas, company spokesman Don Sherry said.

In January, the average bill was at $196.63.