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Gas utilities want regulators to approve previously unapproved rates

NORTH MISSISSIPPI — Six municipally owned natural gas utilities are asking state regulators to approve rates they’ve already been charging customers without approval.

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reports the requests have been filed with the Public Service Commission by utilities in Pontotoc, Batesville, Booneville, Holly Springs, New Albany and Walnut.

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said that under state law, municipal utilities must seek PSC approval for rates charged to customers at least one mile outside the city limits.

In Pontotoc’s case, Presley ordered the utility to cease charging its $9.56 per unit fee and revert back to the latest price update on file, submitted more than a decade ago: $7.14.

Presley said Batesville, Booneville, Holly Springs, New Albany and Walnut had never filed rates with the commission. They were notified of their noncompliance and had until June 15 to submit temporary rates.

Their temporary residential rates, now on file, range from about $8 to $13 per MCF, which is a unit of gas, according to figures provided by the Mississippi Public Utilities Staff. The MPUS is collaborating with the PSC on this issue.

Most customer gas rates fluctuate monthly and are set by city utilities according to a variety of factors, including commodity market rates, availability of stored gas, pipeline fees, supply management fees and other costs associated with operation and maintenance.

The six utilities targeted by Presley serve roughly 23,890 customers, according to the MPUS. Of them, nearly 40 percent live more than a mile outside the city operating the gas service.

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