Chattanooga Gas Company wants to increase rates
The Chattanooga Gas Company is trying to increase rates.
If the request is approved, the average homeowner will pay 11 percent more every month. That's about $5.73 cents.
"We must continue to meet the growing energy demands of this region, and hence we are asking for this increase," said Mekka Parish, with the Chattanooga Gas Company.
For commercial customers, the average monthly increase would be 13 percent, or $12.21.
Parish says this is the first increase they've asked for since 2009.
"The main three things are to address workforce, to modernize our infrastructure and to continue the safe delivery of natural gas in this region," Parish said.
Company officials say they would use the extra money to add eight employees to the 42 they currently have.
It would also pay for new pipelines.
"We are committed to providing clean, safe and reliable natural gas service to all of our customers."
The Tennessee Public Utility Commission sets the rates and service standards for the gas company.
They hosted a public meeting at UTC Thursday night to hear what the local community thinks about the proposed increase.
Other than officials and people representing local businesses, the room was empty.
The Tennessee Attorney General's Office Consumer Advocate team showed up to represent ratepayers.
"We have taken a very different position from the company in this matter," Daniel Whitaker said.
They're asking for rates to decrease an average of $22 a year per residential customer.
Mike Bruesewitz lives in the Fort Wood community.
He doesn't think a higher gas bill would impact his family too much.
"Based on what you've told me it seems like a marginal increase," Bruesewitz said.
But, he says it could be an added burden to people living on a tight budget.
"Utility bills I've noticed they've gone up steadily, not as much as groceries and housing, but they have gone up and they do hit people in the pocketbook," Bruesewitz said. "That extra five, ten dollars adds up."
There will be a hearing August 20 regarding the rate increase proposal.
The TPUC will have a panel of three people to consider input from all sides before making a decision by November.
The commission is still taking public comment on the rate proposal.
You can email comments to email@example.com with the subject line "Comment regarding Docket No. 18-00017"