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Equitable Gas seeking 14-cent monthly repair charge

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Equitable Gas wants to raise residential customers' bills by an average 14 cents a month to pay for multimillion-dollar pipeline replacement projects.

The North Shore-based natural gas utility filed an application with the Public Utility Commission late Tuesday to assess a distribution system improvement charge, as allowed under a new state law.

The 14-cent rate is based on a customer who uses 90 thousand cubic feet, or mcf, a year. The PUC must approve the charge. Equitable plans to spend $23.7 million in 2013 to replace aging pipelines.

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania wants a 62-cent charge, on average. Peoples Natural Gas Co. expects to apply to the PUC for its charge by the end of the week. The fees are designed to bypass costly rate approval proceedings.

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