In this 2014 file photo, natural gas pipes are seen in Lincoln. Credit: Nick Sambides Jr. / BDN

When Summit Natural Gas requested a significant distribution rate increase last March, it was heavily criticized by customers, and by Maine’s Office of the Public Advocate.

The increase could have tripled Summit’s rates over seven years. But Maine Public Advocate Bill Harwood said he has negotiated a much better deal.

As part of the agreement, Summit shareholders would pick up some of the cost of the company’s investment in Maine, relieving ratepayers of bearing the full burden.

If it’s approved, customers would see a 9 percent rate increase in April. And instead of a 200 percent rate increase over seven years, Summit would agree to a nearly 50 percent increase over four and a half years.

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.