Southwest Gas seeks rate increase

Northern Nevada gas customers could end up paying an average of $8.73 a month if a rate increase sought by Southwest Gas is approved by the Public Utilities Commission.

The utility filed a request with the commission on Thursday seeking a $22.9 million increase for Nevada customers, effective July 1.

Roger Montgomery, Southwest Gas vice president of pricing, blamed rising natural gas prices for the increase request.

According to the company, natural gas prices are deregulated and rise and fall depending on the market.

The gas company is required to file annually with the utilities commission to reflect the actual cost the company has paid for natural gas over the last year.

A year ago, Nevada customers received a $24.9 million decrease, reflecting falling gas prices at that time.

Montgomery said that any increase or decrease in the company's purchased gas cost is passed along to customers.

"There is no profit or loss to the company," he said.

If the rates are approved, Northern Nevadans will see a 13.2 percent average increase in cost. Southern Nevadans bills would increase an average of 10.6 percent.

In addition to the rate increase, company officials want to change the number of times a year they can seek a rate change. The company would prefer a monthly rate change hearing.

"Adjusting rates gradually each month reduces the potential that customers will experience significant swings in the price they pay for natural gas," Montgomery said.

Southwest Gas provides natural gas service to nearly 470,000 homes and businesses in Nevada, including 380,000 in Southern Nevada and 90,000 in the north.


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