Utility rates could increase with inflation on the rise

PITTSBURGH — Gas at the pump costs more, and so does food at the grocery store. Soon it could cost you more to heat, cool, and use water in your home.

“I think everyone is working hard for a living, and they can’t afford anything. It’s not good,” said Tanya Willets.

Later this month and in early June, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission will hold public meetings to discuss the plans by Columbia Gas to increase rates for its customers.

Here’s what that would look like.

If a customer buys 70 therms of gas, their bill would go up from about $123 to $135.

That’s a $12 difference.

“It’s corporate America. They charge the prices that they want to charge. We’re going to sit there and take it,” said Joe Ewalt.

In April, Pennsylvania American Water also submitted plans for a rate hike. According to the company, the average monthly residential wastewater bill would jump from about $76 to $95.

“Maybe they think individually, oh, it’s 10 bucks per bill per month or whatever. That adds up when you get water, gas, heat, and electricity. So the short answer is no, it’s not a good time to raise rates,” said

It doesn’t stop there. The PUC tells Channel 11 that the price of energy customers consume is increasing. This means West Penn Power customers will pay 45% more, and Penn Power Customers will see a 23% increase.

Reps for the PA Public Utility Commission tell Channel 11 that the higher prices will make up for the global increase in energy costs.

“The price of every fuel type has really been increasing since last fall.”

“Utilities, by law, cannot earn a profit on those charges, but they also don’t take a loss,” said PUC press secretary Nils Hagen-Frederiksen.

These are just proposals and would have to be approved by the commission.

Below are the details from PUC for people who want to speak at the public hearing on rate hikes for Columbia Gas.

Tuesday, May 31, 2022 – Telephonic hearings will be held at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022 – Telephonic hearings will be held at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The deadline for signing up for the public input hearings is 12 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, 2022.

Signing Up for the Public Input Hearings

If you wish to testify at the telephonic public input hearings, you must preregister with the Office of Consumer Advocate (OCA) by 12 p.m. on Thursday, May 26, 2022. If you do not preregister and provide the information listed below, you will not be able to testify. Individuals will testify in the order in which they preregister. If you do not wish to testify but want to listen to the public input hearings, you may also contact the OCA to obtain the call-in information.

To preregister, please contact the OCA by phone at 1-800-684-6560 or email consumer@paoca.org and provide:

  • Your first and last name;
  • The date and time (1 p.m. or 6 p.m.) of the public input hearing you would like to participate in;
  • The phone number you will be using to call into the public input hearing;
  • A phone number where you can be reached prior to the hearing if it is necessary to contact you;
  • Your email address, if you have one; and
  • If you require an interpreter to participate in the hearing, the language of the interpreter.

If you require an interpreter, please preregister as soon as possible to allow every reasonable effort to have an interpreter present.

If you have any hearing exhibits you will refer to during the hearing, please email them to the OCA at consumer@paoca.org. The OCA will forward the exhibits to the Judge and all parties. Exhibits must be received by May 26, 2022.

If you have any questions, please contact the OCA toll-free at 800-684-6560 or consumer@paoca.org.