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NC Utility Receives $6M Rate and Charge Increase

Scana Corp. subsidiary PSNC Energy said Tuesday that the North Carolina Utilities Commission (NCUC) has issued an order in the company's general rate case application authorizing the utility to increase its rates and charges by $6 million annually.

Gastonia, NC-headquartered PSNC Energy, which distributes natural gas to approximately 424,000 customers in 96 North Carolina cities and communities, said the new rates and charges will go into effect with November bills.

The NCUC order provides for an increase in PSNC Energy's annual natural gas margin revenues of approximately $15.2 million, or 2.6%, which is offset by a $9.2 million reduction in PSNC Energy's fixed gas costs. The end result is a net annual increase of $6 million, or an overall increase of 1%. The impact on residential customers averages out to an increase of approximately $2.24 a month.

Since PSNC Energy's last base rate increase in 1998, the company said it has added more than 2,200 miles of transmission and distribution mains, installed 126,725 new service lines, and had added more than 100,000 customers to its system.

"In the past eight years, we've invested approximately $321 million upgrading and expanding our gas delivery system to meet the needs of our customers," said Rusty Harris, PSNC Energy's president. "It's essential that we be allowed to recover costs associated with growing and maintaining our infrastructure. The commission's order will allow us to continue operating a reliable and efficient system for the growing areas we serve."

The test period for this case was the 12 months ended Dec. 31, 2005, adjusted for certain changes through June 30, 2006 PSNC Energy said. The approved rates are based on an original cost rate base of approximately $620 million and an overall rate of return on rate base of 8.9%. The allowed return on common equity was not disclosed.

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