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State regulators hear comments on natural gas rate

By Kevin Lavery, KWMU

St. Louis, MO. – The Missouri Public Service Commission held a public hearing in St. Louis Monday to gather input on a proposed natural gas rate hike.

Laclede Gas is requesting a $1.05 per month increase to pay for infrastructure costs.

Laclede spokesman George Csolak says the higher fees would pay for infrastructure and personnel costs.

"For maintaining our 15,000 mile distribution pipeline, Csolak said. We signed a new labor agreement last year, so those costs have increased; health care costs have gone up. So there's a number of things that are folded into that."

State utility regulators say they're balancing Laclede's request with the goal of providing the lowest possible rate for consumers. But the Missouri Public Service Commission's Warren Wood says that's a challenge in the face of record natural gas prices.

"They're not just barely record levels: we're seeing record levels well in excess of $200 in an average five-month total winter heating bill over what customers have ever had to pay before, Wood said. You know, on pocketbooks that were already tight, this isn't good news.

The commission has not yet determined when it will rule on the request.

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