Customers of Roanoke Gas Co. will see their monthly bills go up by nearly 11 percent if regulators approve the company’s request for a base rate increase.

An application filed with the State Corporation Commission states the company is seeking $10.5 million in new revenue from the increase.

Roanoke Gas needs to recover costs associated with ongoing infrastructure investment programs, increases in operations and maintenance expenses, and a new utility plant, it said in a statement Wednesday.

“For 135 years, Roanoke Gas has been committed to providing safe, reliable natural gas service to our customers,” President and CEO John D’Orazio said in the statement.

“This proposed rate request reflects investments to improve service, ensure reliability during extreme weather, and reduce methane emissions from our system.”

The company said the increase is not related to its partnership with the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

Some opponents of the controversial project have argued that its massive price tag — which recently rose to $4.6 billion — would lead partners in the venture such as Roanoke Gas to pass the cost along to their ratepayers.

RGC Midstream, a subsidiary of Roanoke Gas parent company RGC Resources, has a 1 percent ownership stake in the pipeline, which is part of a joint venture that includes four other companies.

However, the rate increase being sought applies only to base rates, the portion of a customer’s bill that is charged to recover the costs of repairing, upgrading and operating the system of pipes used to deliver natural gas to homes and businesses.

Mountain Valley is an interstate transmission line, and if it were to produce higher costs to consumers, that would be reflected in the fuel rate portion of their bills.

But “based on the Company’s latest estimates, gas cost charged to customers will not increase due to higher MVP construction costs,” Roanoke Gas said in its statement.

The increase will take effect Jan. 1 on an interim basis. If the SCC does not approve the request from Roanoke Gas, customers would receive refunds with interest.

Under the increase, an average residential customer who uses 5.52 dekatherms of gas would see their current monthly bill of $52.79 increase by approximately $5.61, or 10.6 percent.

Part of the rate request includes a transfer of $4.7 million that Roanoke Gas is currently recovering through a rider to SAVE, a program that enables energy companies in Virginia to upgrade their distribution systems, improve safety and reliability and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed rates also take into account a reduction of about $1.5 million in taxes for Roanoke Gas under the federal tax cut passed by Congress last year.

Roanoke Gas has about 61,000 customers in the Roanoke Valley, and is planning to expand its service to parts of Montgomery and Franklin counties with two taps to the Mountain Valley Pipeline.

A final decision by the SCC is months away. The commission has scheduled a public hearing for June 26 in Richmond, and is taking comments in writing through June 19.

Written comments can be submitted to the SCC’s Document Control Center, P.O. Box 2118, Richmond VA 23219, or online at Submissions should refer to case PUR-2018-00013.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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