PHILADELPHIA, May 9, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) customers, including members of AARP, spoke out against proposed rate hikes requested by PGW at a public hearing today.
PGW requested the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission grant permission to increase its customer service charge by 50 percent, to $18 per month, as part of a request to increase its annual distribution revenues by $70 million.
AARP Pennsylvania, along with PGW customers, raised concerns and strong objections to the PGW request for a rate increase.
"Increasing the fixed monthly customer charge is unfair," stated Coleman Holmes, PGW customer and AARP volunteer. "It would hurt lower usage and lower-income PGW customers the most, many of whom are living on fixed incomes and struggling to pay for food, rent, medicine, and utility bills."
PGW estimates the average customer's monthly bill would increase by $10.59 a month under this request. That is an 11.3% increase, or more than $120 a year.
PGW attempts to justify this rate increase by pointing to increased operational costs and decreased consumption because of warmer temperatures.
AARP Pennsylvania opposes the customer charge increase from $12 to $18, particularly since high fixed customer charge diminishes customer control over their natural gas bill.
"The customer charge would be a flat fee that all PGW customers, regardless of usage, would have to pay," stated Ray Landis, AARP PA Advocacy Manager. "This means that even if you turned off the heat and all appliances in your home that utilize natural gas, you would still owe PGW $18 per month. How does this help ratepayers who are trying to keep their energy bills more affordable?"
The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission is considering the PGW request for a rate increase and will likely make a decision in the summer months.
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SOURCE AARP Pennsylvania