US-based electricity utility Vectren has announced that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved a base rate increase for Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio's natural gas distribution business in 17 west central Ohio counties.

According to the company, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio’s (PUCO’s) order provides for a $14.8 million increase in Vectren’s base distribution rates to cover the ongoing cost of operating, maintaining and expanding the approximate 5,200-mile distribution system used to serve more than 318,000 customers.

The base rate adjustment will result in an approximate 3.8% increase, or less than $4 per month, to the average total bill for residential customers who heat their homes with natural gas, said the company.
The increase is expected to go into effect on or before February 1, 2009 following the filing of revised rate schedules, which must be approved by the PUCO.

Vectren said that the creation of a one-year pilot program, which will provide a $4 per month discount to the newly approved flat monthly charge for up to 5,000 customers who are at or below 175 percent of federal poverty guidelines and are not enrolled in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP).

Vectren Corporation is an energy holding company headquartered in Evansville, Ind. The company’s energy delivery subsidiaries claims to provide gas and/or electricity to more than one million customers in adjoining service territories that cover nearly two-thirds of Indiana and west central Ohio.