Workers for the natural gas company Unitil install plastic piping in Old Port in this 2013 file photo. The Maine Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday approved a rate hike for Summit Natural Gas company. Credit: Courtesy of Unitil

Summit Natural Gas customers can expect to see higher bills in the coming months.

On Tuesday, Maine’s Public Utilities Commission approved a rate hike to cover the increasing cost of supplying gas, the  Portland Press Herald reported. The price of a therm, a unit of heat, increased to $2.29.

That means that a person using 71 therms per month would pay a monthly bill of approximately $163.58, up from $78.54.

Because Tuesday’s rate hike is a “cost of gas adjustment,” Summit will not make any increased profit, according to the Press Herald. The adjustment is based on how much the company estimates it will cost to buy enough fuel to supply homes and businesses.

Tuesday’s rate hike is seperate from a rate hike proposed by Summit in early September, which sought to raise the distribution rate. If that rate increases, customers could be paying monthly bills of $350 or higher, compared with the current average expense of $170 per month. That rate hike would be one of the most expensive ever requested by a Maine utility.

The rate hike is just another added pressure as Mainers contend with rising heating costs this winter. The Home Energy Assistance Program has seen 1 8,000 applications since mid-July, according to MaineHousing — more than three times as many as were processed last year.

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Leela Stockley

Leela Stockley is an alumna of the University of Maine. She was raised in northern Maine, and loves her cat Wesley, her puppy Percy and staying active in the Maine outdoors.