Natural Gas Providers Agree to Freeze

Officials with the Alabama Public Service Commission have approved a rate increase request from the state's gas and electric utilities.

But the requested hikes will not be as high as the companies anticipated.

Alagasco customers saw a rate hike of 36.7 percent on Oct. 1, but officials say the cost bump came as a direct result of the hurricanes.

"Even if gas prices increase nationally, I am seeking to freeze all rates through March of 2006," said Jim Sullivan, Chairman of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

"We maintain that the initial proposal that we put forward is fair and would have allowed us to recover our costs in a manner that was responsible and not a large burden to the customer," said Carrie Kurlander, spokesperson for Alabama Power Company.

Since the PSC met earlier this week, two companies that provide natural gas to Alabama homes and businesses, Alagasco and mobile gas services have promised not to raise rates any higher until mar. 31, 2006.