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South Jersey Gas Receives Rate Increase From BPU

South Jersey Gas Receives Rate Increase From BPU

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) followed its own precedent set in early October in rulings involving three other state utilities by granting South Jersey Gas last week almost half of the Levelized Gas Adjustment Clause increase it requested to meet higher wholesale natural gas prices. The utility had petitioned for a 39.7% rate increase, but the board granted the company a 19% annual raise.

South Jersey Gas' rate will jump from $0.78 per therm to a little over $0.94 per therm, raising the average residential customers' total annual bill by $152.29. The new rate will take effect immediately upon the BPU's signing of the order.

In similar BPU orders issued last month, Elizabethtown Gas requested a 17.3 to 30% increase, but the board only approved a 17.3% hike. Likewise, Public Service Electric and Gas Co. wanted a 24% increase, but instead received 16%. New Jersey Natural Gas received the 16% rate hike it petitioned for (see NGI, Oct. 16).

"Over the last several months energy prices nationwide rose dramatically for most major fuel sources including oil and natural gas. This rate increase was necessary to recover the record wholesale natural gas costs we've already incurred and paid for on behalf of our customers. As soon as it is possible to reduce this rate we will file to do so," said Charles Biscieglia, CEO of South Jersey Gas. "We urge our customers to join our free Equal Payment Plan to help level the impact from month to month."

Like the rate increase orders passed down to the other utilities, South Jersey Gas will have the ability to raise or lower its rates by 2% in December, and by another 2% in January. The utility must also file with the board in early December to substantiate any further increases to ensure its rates reflect market conditions for February, March and April.

A subsidiary of South Jersey Industries, the utility serves 280,000 customers in seven New Jersey counties.

Alex Steis

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