ShareThis Page

PUC hearing set on Jefferson Twp. company's 75% rate hike on natural gas

| Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 1:21 a.m.

The Public Utility Commission has scheduled a public hearing on a 75 percent rate increase request from a small Jefferson Township natural gas company.

This is the Herman Riemer Gas Co.'s first rate hike request since 1995, said company spokesman Bob Seibert.

“We've been operating at a loss for the past six years,” he said. “We should have filed for a base rate increase years ago.”

If approved, the monthly bill for the average residential customer would increase by about $46, from $61 to $107.

“It looks like a rather large increase, but it's not that much of a gain for the company,” Seibert said.

Riemer serves about 590 residential customers in Buffalo, Clinton and Jefferson townships.

In July, the commission voted to investigate the request to increase revenues by more than $405,000 or 77 percent.

Under state law, gas companies may neither profit nor lose money on the cost of natural gas. Rate changes are made to handle the cost of distributing the gas.

Each year, the PUC adjusts companies' rates to reflect the rise or fall of natural gas prices. To raise rates beyond that, a company must apply to the PUC.

Many large gas companies file for base rate increases annually, but smaller companies such as Riemer, which has five employees, do so less often due to the time and cost of filing a request with the PUC, Seibert said.

“It will cost well over $16,000 to do this filing, and it's tough to use that money,” he said.

The hearing for the increase is scheduled for Oct. 17 in Freeport Area High School auditorium.

Rate increase hearings are common and are an opportunity for consumers to give testimony. The administrative judge overseeing the hearing issues a recommendation, and the commission makes the final decision.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.