Protestors call on National Fuel to “put the people first”

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “National fuel, you’re the worst, it’s time to put the people first,” chanted dozens of protestors during a rally ahead of a public statement hearing in front of National Fuel and the Public Service Commission.

Protesters are pushing back against a proposed 7.8 percent rate hike.

“Which would equate to $5.75 per month for $69 per year,” said Karen Merkel, National Fuel Spokesperson.

PUSH Buffalo says the cost will be higher for customers already struggling.

“I barely can make ends meet. Right now my bills look good, but I know if they raise it, my bill is not going to be that good,” said Providencia Carrion, National Fuel customer.

“Yes, it is going to make it harder to make ends meet. It messes up not only that you can’t afford to pay for one bill, we have other utility bills we have to pay for as well,” said Brenda Herndon.

Dozens of National Fuel customers made their voices heard at a public statement hearing. Some said their homes are not weatherized which means they could be paying a lot more than $5.75 a month.

“When you look at that fixed rate cost, it actually ranges as high as 20 some percent, that part of your bill would go up that high,” said Sam Magavern, National Fuel Customer.

“It’s about to get cold and a whole lot of houses are not weatherized and our main point is we do not want no rate hike, do not do it, it’s going to affect a whole lot of people,” said Herndon.

National Fuel says it’s hard to put an exact amount for low income customers. They say although it’s the first time they’ve asked for an increase in nine years, the final decision isn’t up to the company.

“It is not the decision of National Fuel, it is the decision solely of the Public Service Commission and the commissioners,” said Merkel.

If the rate hike is approved, it will go into effect April 2017. National Fuel expects a decision by the Spring.

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