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PARALLEL UNIVERSE: WV Gas Companies Filing Rate Increases This Week; Feds Provide an Easy-to-Navigate Source of Energy Information

Posted by kinchendavid on August 1, 2006

By David M. Kinchen

Hinton, WV  – Hold onto to your checkbooks: beginning today, Aug. 1, 2006,  West Virginia’s natural gas suppliers will be filing their requests for rate increases, according to the Consumer Advocate Division of the state Public Service Commission.

Byron L. Harris, an economist at the CAD who’s put up with my rantings for several years with good spirits, says not all utilities will be granted increases. Some gas companies will get decreases – none too soon for our stretched budgets, I say.

Harris turned me onto a wonderfully easy to use web site from the Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) that allows a person to click on a particular state and find out what, for instance Californians are paying for gas (about six bucks less per thousand cubic feet (MCF) than West Virginians, I discovered). The web site: http://tonto.eia.doe.gov/dnav/ng/ng_pri_sum_dcu_nus_m.htm

Here are some residential prices for May 2006 per MCF by state: West Virginia: $17.85; California: $11.91; Virginia: $17.39; Illinois: $10.81; Ohio: $15.06; Pennsylvania: $18.06; Maryland: $18.15; Kentucky: $15.85; Alaska: $7.21; Indiana: $14.48; New Jersey: $16.16; New York: $16.29; New Mexico: $13.13; and ….drum roll…Hawaii: $34.72! Yes, that’s not a typo. I’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times and wonder, aside from the upcountry of Maui, where you would need gas to heat anything. Winter temps are about the same as summer ones in all the islands I’ve been to.

The U.S. average, according to the site is $14.87, so we are just shy of $3 above the national average for a state with below national average per capita income. Here’s a web site for per capita income by state: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104652.html

According to the site, the U.S. per capita income was $34,586 in 2005, the latest year for which numbers are available. West Virginia: $27,215; Virginia: $38,390; Ohio: $32,478; Kentucky: $28,513; Illinois: $36,120.

I know it’s just one way of comparing the impact on the average consumer of high energy prices — not taking into account, for instance, much higher property taxes in many states — but it says something that a state $7,000 below the national per capita income level should be paying $3 more than the national average for natural gas, in a state that’s a major natural gas producer.

Keep watching for details of rate increases. You’ll be the next to feel my personal pain!

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