- Associated Press - Tuesday, November 1, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas’ three gas utilities are raising their rates, primarily because of an increase in the price of natural gas.

CenterPoint Energy, Black Hills Energy and Arkansas Oklahoma-Gas told the state’s Public Service Commission on Monday that rate changes will take effect starting Tuesday and will end March 31, according to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/2evMFvz ).

The commission isn’t required to hold hearings to approve the rate changes.

CenterPoint’s rates will increase 19 percent, while Black Hills’ rates will go up 9.18 percent. Rates for Arkansas Oklahoma Gas will have a 13 percent increase.

CenterPoint is the largest natural gas utility in the state, however only 8 percentage points of that rate increase is by natural gas price changes, according to spokesman Alicia Dixon. The other 11 percentage points are from the change in the utility’s base rate, as well as other charges.

“It’s just the national landscape of natural gas prices being higher than they were last year,” President of Arkansas Oklahoma Gas Kim Linam said, “Because our rates are based on the indexes that are published nationally.”

According to energy economist James Williams, the cost of natural gas has increased by about 20 percent since October of last year.

Even with the increase, natural gas prices are considered to still be significantly lower than in the past.

“It’s safe to say that while (natural gas) prices are higher than they were last year, they are still lower than they were several years ago,” said the commission’s general staff’s executive director John Bethel.

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com


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