Activists protest proposed heating hike

Posted at 11:33 PM, Oct 26, 2016

On a cold October evening, the need for affordable heating is easily understood. And about a two dozen community activists in Downtown Buffalo recognize that fact. That's because National Fuel is looking to raise its delivery price for natural gas.

The energy company says the average person would see around a $5 increase a month.   

The rally wasn't about shouting on the streets. Many members of the crowd spoke in front of the state Public Service Commission at the Central Library.

“We feel like the PCS's job is to make sure they're acting in the public's best interest,” said John Washington with Push Buffalo. They organized the rally and have more information here.

The state has to approve the planned 15% increase. If passed, the hike would go into effect in April of 2017.

“This winter it will have no impact,” said Karen Merkel, a spokesperson for National Fuel. She says the proposed increase is to create better opportunities for people living in rural areas.

“They're paying an exorbitant amount of money right now to heat their homes with propane, oil, wood, electric and they want natural gas service,” added Merkel.

You can find more information from National Fuel, here.


For some National Fuel customers, the increase may be an inconvenience, for others it could be much more.

“We're at the point whether to balance food late in the month or the gas bill,” said Gary Cutright. His family is living off of one income and is already on a payment plan with National Fuel.

“Consider that a majority of your customers here in Buffalo, alone, are low income families, elderly disabled and it's going to affect us the hardest,” said Cutright.

National fuel hasn't raised their delivery rates in the past 9 years. They also say, none of this money would fund the half a billion dollar Northern Access pipeline.