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WV average residential utility bills fell 5.3 percent in 2012

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Average residential utility bills in West Virginia decreased 5.3 percent in 2012.

Declining natural gas utility rates were the primary driver of the decrease in total household utility bills, according to a Jan. 9 report from the Public Service Commission of West Virginia's Consumer Advocate Division.

"Last January, an average utility ratepayer in West Virginia paid $292.81 a month for electricity, gas, water and telephone service," said CAD Director Byron Harris. "Currently, that same customer is paying $277.22, a 5.3 percent decrease."

Electricity and water utility rates have increased by 38.4 percent and 35.5 percent respectively since 2008, the study shows, but, statewide, those increases have been offset by a 29.7 percent decrease in bills for homes that heat with natural gas.

Utility costs used in the study are based on monthly residential usage of 13 thousand cubic feet of gas, 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, 4,500 gallons of water and a single telephone line with flat-rate service and other applicable charges.  Those averages are values of convenience and may not in all cases be true averages; average electricity use in West Virginia, for example, is closer to 1,200 kilowatt-hours/month.

The study addresses current rates for 17 cities in West Virginia.  Residents of Logan enjoy the lowest rates, according to the study, while Bluefield customers have the highest bills.

In addition, average total household bills for some of the largest cities in the state were compared with bills in surrounding states. The current statewide monthly average of $277.22 for all West Virginia cities studied compares with the average of $293.89 for five cities in surrounding states.

City by city, utility bills for residential customers in West Virginia's seven largest cities range from $264.21 in Martinsburg to $288.17 in Fairmont. By comparison, bills for customers in some surrounding states' cities for the same use would come to $234.32 in Lexington, Ky.; $272.40/month in Columbus, Ohio; $296.15/month in Richmond, Va.; $315.72/month in Baltimore, Md. and $350.85 in Pittsburgh, Pa.