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Public advocate negotiates better rates for Summit Natural Gas customers

natural gas pipes.jpg
Nick Sambides Jr.
In this Feb. 27, 2014, file photo, natural gas pipes are stacked in Lincoln.

When Summit Natural Gas requested a significant distribution rate increase last March, it was heavily criticized by customers, and by Maine's Office of the Public Advocate.

The increase could have tripled Summit's rates over seven years. But Maine Public Advocate Bill Harwood said he has negotiated a much better deal.

As part of the agreement, Summit shareholders would pick up some of the cost of the company's investment in Maine, relieving ratepayers of bearing the full burden.

If it's approved, customers would see a 9% rate increase in April. And instead of a 200% rate increase over seven years, Summit would agree to a nearly 50% increase over four and a half years.

Murray Carpenter is Maine Public’s climate reporter, covering climate change and other environmental news.