For the second time in four months, Liberty Utilities has filed a formal petition to the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to increase its Winter 2013/2014 cost of gas for services rendered as of March 1, 2014 and ending April 30, 2014. The  most recent rate increase will raise rates up to $1.2441 per therm, for all residential, $1.2457 per therm for commercial/ industrial (C&I) high winter use, and $1.2331 per therm for commercial/ industrial (C&I) low winter use customers.

This rate increase will effect customers that are not on a fixed gas price option and C&I customers currently served by EnergyNorth Natural Gas Corp D.B.A Liberty Utilities.  The rate increase was requested, largely due to an under collection of $9.3 million dollars by Liberty Utilities over the course of this winter.

A Quick History of Filings

On October 31, 2013 Liberty Utilities petitioned the PUC to be allowed to raise their rate to a maximum Cost of gas (COG) of $1.1119 per them, or 25 percent above the approved COG rate, without further PUC approval. Liberty began charging the maximum COG $1.1119 per them rate to residential gas customers on February 1st, 2014, while the petition was pending.  On January 31, 2014 Liberty has also proposed a further rate increase to $1.2441 per therm for residential customers, $1.2457 per therm for C&I high winter use customers and $1.2331 per therm for C&I low winter use customers.

Regional Impact

The recent rate hike request by Liberty may be a harbinger for things to come. When contacted for a comment, Sean Devine, of Freedom Energy Logistics, expert consultants in Natural Gas and Electricity load management for businesses, summed up the current state of the natural gas market.

“With Natural Gas storage levels dangerously low, and base load New England power generators, Vermont Yankee and Brayton Point, being retired, New England’s need for pipeline infrastructure is at an all-time high. The new levels of hands on service for load management, and procurement are also at an all-time high for the commercial and Industrial sector. The volatility we are seeing contributes directly to New England’s need for pipeline infrastructure, and with that infrastructure, New England will see a revitalization in high quality manufacturing jobs, abundant clean natural gas, and low power pricing. The utility rate hikes will be impacting bottom lines tremendously, however by utilizing highly skilled load management expertise, the end users can realize tremendous savings versus the utility costs.”

Pipeline constraints and an unseasonably cold winter continue to drive the price of natural gas, and subsequently electricity, up to historically high levels. While residential customers will see an increased bill, commercial and industrial customers will see potentially crippling increase in the cost of gas.

Sean Devine pointed out the importance of proper natural gas load management in such a volatile market.

“Now more than ever, commercial and industrial customers need high level consulting to actively manage the natural gas loads. From procurement, to load shaping, daily management, and nominations, the natural gas desk at Freedom Logistics is saving their customers hundreds of thousands of dollars utilizing premiere active management strategies that the simple brokers do not have the ability to bring to the table”

With natural gas pipeline infrastructure problems expected to continue to impact New England for the next few years, the price of natural gas will continue to be a hot button and potentially costly issue for both large commercial and industrial businesses as well as residents.

For more information on how this price increase may affect your bottom line and how to effectively manage your energy costs, please contact Freedom Energy Logistics at 603-625-2244 or email