Customers of Mobile Gas Company should start feeling the effects of natural gas price hikes by the end of this month.
Utility officials said the 22-percent hike went into effect in March. But customers should start noticing the increase by the end of this month, when cooler temperatures fire up furnaces across the state. The increase means the average residential customer's monthly bill will go up about $7.50.
The company said the rate increase in part, was caused by growing demand for natural gas among industrial and power generation companies. Another factor was increase consumer demand caused by an unusually cold 2002 winter, especially in the northern U.S.
Mobile Gas officials said in recent months wholesale prices have tripled since last year.