The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has voted to cut a base rate increase requested by UGI Utilities Inc.’s natural gas division by nearly 54%.

UGI filed the request in January, asking commissioners to approve an annual base rate increase that would have raised revenues by $58.6 million. The next month, commissioners said they would investigate the rate increase and sent the proposal to the PUC’s Office of Administrative Law Judge for a recommended settlement (see Daily GPI, Feb. 12). UGI provides natural gas service to 388,000 customers across 15 eastern and south-central counties in the state.

The PUC approved a settlement that would increase the company’s annual revenues by $27 million. A typical monthly bill for a UGI customer using 57.3 Ccf of natural gas will increase from $51.77 to $56.11, or by 8.4%. Under the original proposal, those bills would have averaged $61.97 for an increase of nearly 20%.

The settlement also requires UGI to use nearly $2.7 million of the revenue increase to fund its new energy efficiency and conservation plan, which would help customers reduce their energy consumption. UGI, along with its industrial intervenors and other complainants, supported the settlement.

UGI’s request was also part of the PUC’s efforts to enhance public input in rate cases. Earlier this year, the commission hosted two online “smart hearings” that allowed UGI customers to more easily comment on the rate increase request by providing their input remotely or in person.