Gas company seeks rate hike

State commission to meet in Steamboat

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— With the prospect of yet another increase in gas prices for customers of Greeley Gas, the Public Utilities Commission will come to Steamboat Springs tonight to gauge the public's reaction to the proposal by the gas company.

Greeley Gas, which serves about 90,000 customers in Colorado, wants to increase its rates by $4.28 million annually.

On average that would mean an increase of $2.04 for residences and $8.87 for commercial enterprises in Steamboat every month, said Barbara Fernandez, a spokeswoman for the PUC.

The proposed increase does not have to do with the sharp increase in natural gas prices overall instead, Greeley Gas is attempting to push another increase through to pay for investments in the company's delivery system along with technology-based and productivity improvements, Fernandez said.

Greeley Gas has asked the PUC to approve a number of rate increases over this winter because of the high costs it is paying for natural gas.

That cost is passed on directly to consumers, said Greeley Gas Spokeswoman Karen Wilkes.

The increase in heating bills does not translate into an increase in profits, Wilkes said.

Regardless, those costs have forced consumers to pay bills that were two and three times the bills they paid last year.

Steamboat residents have complained both to the city and to Greeley Gas itself for the poor response it has shown in handling customer service issues.

Greeley Gas recently expanded its staff to handle more calls to its toll-free number in Texas, Wilkes said.

Greeley Gas has added 32 percent more customers since it last raised rates in May of 1994, according to a PUC press release.


To reach Avi Salzman call 871-4203

or e-mail asalzman@steamboatpilot.com.

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