Going Up... Again?

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This is not the largest increase customers of Dominion Hope Gas have ever seen.

Three years ago, Dominion proposed a 54 percent increase, which eventually was pared to 37 percent, and the 28 percent hike Dominion wants isn't the largest of the current crop of West Virginia proposals.

That distinction goes to equitable gas, which is seeking a 40 percent rate hike, or an additional $46 a month average from residential users. Mountaineer Gas, which also serves portions of our area, wants less of a percentage boost at 18 percent, and West Virginia Power gas service wants 24 percent more.

The rate increases are by no means guaranteed. The West Virginia Public Service Commission will have to review the proposals, and likely hold public hearings on all of them.

Those hearings are likely to be attended by groups representing low-income residents, as they were in 2001. Wood County's Senior Citizens Agency hopes it's among the groups questioning this increase.

Those higher bills could go higher still, depending on how hard of a winter the mid-Ohio Valley faces next year.

The companies say they need more money to cover the higher prices they're paying for natural gas.