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AZ Regulators Approve Southwest Gas $49.3 Million Rate Hike

In a case in which no one argued against a rate hike -- only how large the rate hike should be -- the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) earlier this month approved a $49.3 million annual revenue increase for Las Vegas, NV-based Southwest Gas Corp. The utility had requested $66.9 million, and the ACC staff recommended about $15 million less.

Effective immediately, the rate increase is the first full rate hike case that Southwest had filed with the ACC in six years; the utility's last Arizona rate hike was in 2001.

"Everyone involved in this case, including consumer advocates, agreed that an increase was necessary due to the rising costs of natural gas, increased costs of maintaining its infrastructure to ensure safe and reliable utility service and increased operating costs," said an ACC spokesperson.

ACC Chairman Jeff Hatch-Miller in a prepared statement said that the regulatory commission "thoroughly audited and analyzed" all the expenses that Southwest Gas claimed in future utility rates. As part of the increase, Southwest is mandated to have a benchmark study completed on its gas-buying practices compared to other utilities, and the ACC intends to use that in deciding future fuel cost increase cases, according to ACC Commissioner Kristin Mayes.

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