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PSNC's residential gas rate to be lowest since 2002

The Triangle's natural gas utility is cutting its rate by 5 percent effective Tuesday, a move that will result in the lowest residential natural gas rate in nearly a decade.

The effect of PSNC Energy's rate cut will trim about $5 a month from a typical household bill this winter, to about $89 a month on average. The company will reduce its residential rate Tuesday from $1 per therm to 95 cents per therm, a unit of heat measure.

The last time the rate was lower was in 2002, when the rate was 87 cents a therm. In more recent years, however, the price of natural gas spiked to the point that PSNC's residential rate had peaked at $1.74 per therm in 2005, which translated to about $164 a month. The N.C. Utilities Commission approved the change this morning. Gastonia-based PSNC has about 475,000 natural gas customers in 96 counties, including the Triangle.

Natural gas and electric utilities in North Carolina are required to adjust their rates to reflect their cost of fuel. Natural gas utilities can make adjustments as often as once a month, while electric utilities make adjustments once a year. The utilities are not allowed to profit on the cost of fuel and are required by state law to negotiate the best prices for their customers.

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