Wallace - Gas Prices

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Public Service Commissioner George Wallace Junior wants an investigation into natural gas rates in Alabama described in a newspaper survey as much higher rates than surrounding states.

The Mobile Register's analysis of rates found that on an annual basis, Mobile Gas customers pay hundreds of dollars more for the same amount of natural gas than consumers do 30 miles away in Mississippi.

Rates for Alabama Gas and Wheeler Basin Natural Gas were also well above the regional average according to the newspaper survey.

The three utilities ranked first, second and fourth in a survey of gas rates charged by 23 regulated utilities in eight Southern states.

PSC spokesman Clark Bruner said the commission's staff will look at the newspaper's analysis. He said "some points are valid."

Wallace, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, said he felt he "had let the citizens of Alabama down" because he was unaware that the state's rates were higher than those in the surrounding states.

Wallace said the PSC has allowed Alabama companies to collect some of the highest rates of return in the country. The rate of return is essentially the profit a company is allowed to earn each year.