Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) on Friday filed a petition with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for an increase of $132.8 million for gas delivery service. This gas base rate hike would result in a 3.78% overall increase in gas delivery rates, effective June 30, 2006. It would have no impact on this winter’s heating bills.

PSE&G said the additional revenue requested will pay for technological and infrastructure upgrades “critical” to its ability to deliver safe, reliable gas to New Jersey homes and businesses.

“PSE&G is regarded as one of the safest, most reliable utilities in the nation. But maintaining that high level of performance means constant and costly investment in the delivery system and the people who power it,” said Peter Cistaro, PSE&G vice president for gas delivery. “This rate increase is critical to our ability to meet our commitments to New Jersey.”

If approved, the average PSE&G residential gas customer will pay 6.09% more for gas delivery next spring. Under the new rates, a residential gas heating customer who uses 200 therms in a winter month will pay about $94 more per year. Present gas delivery rates will remain in effect until the BPU approves the requested rate increase.

The utility’s last gas base rate case was approved in January 2002. It resulted in a 5.3% gas delivery rate increase for the average residential heating customer. In the four years since, PSE&G said it has invested more than $687.8 million into its gas delivery system and personnel.

“Raising rates is something we try to avoid. We haven’t asked for an increase in gas delivery rates in four years,” Cistaro said. “We work hard to keep costs down, to make prudent investments and to spend money efficiently and effectively. Still, upgrades are a necessary part of maintaining and operating a safe, reliable system. There’s no way around it.”

PSE&G, a subsidiary of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., is New Jersey’s oldest and largest regulated gas and electric delivery utility, serving the majority of the state’s population.

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