Public Hearings Monday On Natural Gas Rate Hike

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Dominion wants to triple the fixed rate it charges customers to transport gas to the consumer, from five dollars and seventy cents a month to 17.50. The argument is that everyone pays the same fixed rate. Consumer advocates say the proposal penalizes those who are trying to lower their costs through using less energy. National City Bank economist Richard DeKaser says that utility rates in general have been rising dramatically in recent months.

DeKASER: For the one year period beginning in June, utility rates across our country have increased ten percent. And when you look at how much of our wallet gets spent on utility product, it's been a problem for the consumer economy.

And it's not over yet. This past Thursday, Akron-based First Energy Corp filed for a rate hike with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, although the company claims many electric bills will decrease in the coming year, due to the dropping of other charges.

Clevelanders can weigh-in on the Dominion proposal Monday at 12:30 at the State Office Building, downtown. There will be additional hearings in Akron, Garfield Heights, and Youngstown, later this month.

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