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Liberty Utilities set to cut natural-gas heating bills this winter

Natural-gas customers in Concord and surrounding communities should see lower heating bills this winter.

The state Public Utilities Commission last week approved new gas rates for Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Ontario-based Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. that in July closed on a $285 million purchase of National Grid’s New Hampshire businesses.

The new winter rate, effective last Thursday through April 30, is roughly $0.67 per therm for residential customers, a decrease from last winter’s average rate of about $0.73 per therm. With other rate changes, the PUC said, customers should see an average decrease in winter heating bills of $96, or 8.8 percent.

Under the PUC’s ruling, Liberty can increase its rates as much as 25 percent this winter if needed. Customers also have the option of locking in a fixed rate of about $0.69 per therm, 2 cents more than the estimated regular rate.

Utility officials told the PUC that the rate reduction was “driven, in large part, by a substantial decrease in commodity costs,” according to the commission’s 12-page order. The state Office of Consumer Advocate didn’t object to the new rates.

Liberty has about 83,000 gas customers in Concord, throughout southern and central New Hampshire and in Berlin.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

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