Questar Gas Co.'s residential customers will have to pay an additional $163 per year for natural gas, following approval of two rate-increase requests.

The Utah Public Service Commission said Monday that it had approved an order that raises Questar Gas Co.'s rates by approximately $195 million, or 23 percent. That would mean an increase of approximately $152 annually, or $12.66 monthly, for the typical residential customer and is effective today.

Questar in May had requested an increase of about $190 million in two phases. The commission instead granted the utility a $195 million increase in a single phase.

The company said the increase was needed to cover the escalating cost of purchasing natural gas for distribution to customers.

On Friday, the commission in a separate, general-rate case, issued an order approving an $11.97 million rate increase for Questar, effective Aug. 15. That rate hike will result in an increase of about 92 cents per month to the typical residential customer, or about $11 per year, according to a statement from the commission.

The change in general rates will cover increases in nongas costs such as infrastructure, labor, pipes and equipment.

In December of last year, the company had originally requested an increase of $26.96 million, which was subsequently reduced to $22.16 following an order from the commission.

Questar said it typically asks for commission approval to adjust rates twice yearly to reflect changing supply costs, which are passed on to customers with no markup. The company said it based the requests on forecasts of what it will cost to buy natural gas for customers.

In May, Questar said it may make a second general rate-increase request if its latest general rate request results in an increase that would not allow the utility to meet its planned capital improvement needs.

The last time Questar Gas requested two general rate cases in a 12-month period was September 1982 and July 1983.

"We anticipate filing another general rate case sometime this year," said Questar spokesman Chad Jones on Monday. He said the amount of the proposed increase request has yet to be determined.


E-mail: jlee@desnews.com