PORTLAND, Maine (AP)&nbsp- The latest rate increase for natural gas customers in Maine is smaller than expected.

The Public Utilities Commission this week approved a 3.36 percent hike for Northern Utilities. That’ s well below the 17 percent increase the state’ s largest natural gas distributor originally requested.

Company spokeswoman Sheila Doiron said gas prices fell unexpectedly, prompting Northern Utilities to adjust its request accordingly.

Doiron said the typical customer who uses gas for heat, hot water, cooking and clothes drying will pay an average of $2.81 cents more each month during the next 90 days.