MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The state's utility regulatory board could decide next month whether to make any changes to the rate plan for Alabama Gas and the timetable for when they will take effect for consumers.
On Wednesday, the Public Service Commission held the last of three public hearings on the state's largest natural gas distributor. PSC President Twinkle Cavanaugh said she expects changes, and the commission will likely consider them at its next meeting Nov. 5 or possibly sooner.
The PSC has had Alabama Gas on a rate stabilization plan with a specified return on equity for 30 years. Rates are adjusted when the return falls outside the range. The current plan provides Alabama Gas with a return on equity of 13.15 percent to 13.65 percent.
The commission used to provide a similar range for Mobile Gas, but the commission voted in July to lower the range to 10.45 percent to 10.95 percent.
Commissioner Terry Dunn said he would like to see the PSC lower Alabama Gas to a similar range "to be fair to Mobile Gas."
A consultant working for Alabama Gas, University of Illinois Springfield business professor Karl McDermott, said the company's current return on equity is reasonable. He said Alabama's largest natural gas distributor has higher risks than Mobile Gas because it serves a more geographically dispersed area, parts of its service area are losing population and have high unemployment, and it faces more competition from other natural gas suppliers.