Last week's news that Mountaineer Gas Co. is seeking a 10.8 percent rate reduction is good for area residents, as it could lead to lower heating bills this winter.
The proposed rate reduction also serves as a reminder that the natural gas boom our area is experiencing through drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation has tangible benefits for everyone, not just property owners that lease their land or mineral rights to the energy companies. Businesses also benefit through potential new customers and also stability and lower costs in the gas market.
Under Mountaineer's proposal filed with the West Virginia Public Service Commission, the average monthly rate for residential customers would decrease by $6.78. That works out to $81.36 annually.
Businesses would see an even larger decrease in their bills, at 12.31 percent, or an average of $32.77 per month.
The state PSC reviews and can modify any rate change request.
Separate from the rate decrease request, Mountaineer also has asked the PSC to increase its base monthly rate. If both that proposal and the rate decrease are approved, total savings for residential customers would be $3.38 per month, or $40.56 annually.
Natural gas has been a volatile commodity over the past decade, with wide price swings being common. Natural gas currently costs about $3 per unit. In comparison, just a few years ago that same unit of gas cost about $7.15 - more than double today's price.
Having stability in the energy market always is a positive for the economy - and something essential for manufacturing. West Virginia is one of a number of states currently studying how the natural gas boom can help the manufacturing sector grow. Our hope is that the natural gas flowing out of the ground now can lead to new jobs and opportunities in the future for West Virginia and Ohio workers.