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Roanoke Gas responds to protest over rate increase, Mountain Valley Pipeline



ROANOKE, Va. — Roanoke Gas recently announced a major increase in the cost of gas bills for its customers, citing the recent winter weather in the South. As a result, several groups planned to protest outside the Roanoke Gas Company building on Kimball Avenue in Roanoke Tuesday morning.

Some customers say the rate increase will hurt poor people in the area. Protesters also say customers can expect to see a rise in prices if the Mountain Valley Pipeline is completed because of the transportation costs.

Roanoke Gas shared the following statement with WFXR News on Tuesday, March 16 in response to the protest earlier in the day:

“The Mothers Out Front group held a small protest in front of the offices of Roanoke Gas Company earlier today, led by Freeda Cathcart. Ms. Cathcart’s most recent statements are false and should be dismissed. Roanoke Gas would not, nor can it, ‘use MVP to scam its customers,’ as alleged by Ms. Cathcart. In fact, as a Virginia public service corporation, Roanoke Gas Company’s operations, including the rates billed to its customers, are under the oversight of the Virginia State Corporation Commission. Ms. Cathcart’s accusations and protests use misinformation and mischaracterizations about Roanoke Gas, the MVP and the federal and state agencies who regulate both Roanoke Gas and MVP. Roanoke Gas respects Ms. Cathcart’s right to express her opposition to it or the MVP. However, that does not give Ms. Cathcart license to spread patently false and misleading information.”


When announcing Tuesday’s protest, Freeda Cathcart — the team leader for Mothers Out Front Roanoke — said that the SWVA Poor People’s Campaign, the GFWC Star Woman’s Club, and “other concerned citizens” would be present as well.

Cathcart sent two statements about Tuesday morning’s protest.

The first release from Monday, March 15 said that the Roanoke Gas rate increase hurts poor people:

If the Mountain Valley Pipeline is completed then customers of Roanoke Gas can expect to continue to see a rise in their rates. While gas from the Marcellus Basin might be cheaper, transportation is the other cost factor for customers. MVP is almost certain to have the most expensive gas in our region due to the high cost of building MVP – a cost Roanoke Gas will try to pass on to its customers, using FERC rules to give itself at least 14% net profit.

The MVP was an unwise choice from the outset that appears to have been a way to enrich the parent company (RGC Resources) and its shareholders at the expense of Roanoke Gas’s customers. It’s unacceptable for a utility that is supposed to be closely tied to its community to intentionally extract money from its customers without an equal benefit to them in return. This will hurt the entire economy of our region and even worse it will disportionally hurt poor people.


The second release from Tuesday said that a coalition of 30 organizations is appealing to the Mountain Valley Pipeline partners — including Roanoke Gas — to cancel the project:

A coalition of thirty organizations representing over 125,000 people are appealing to the partners of Mountain Valley Pipeline to cancel the project. Five companies own the Mountain Valley Pipeline; Equitrans Midstream (48%), NextEra Energy (31%), Consolidated Edison (10%), AltaGas (10%) and RGC Resources, parent company of Roanoke Gas (1%).

MVP is turning into a financial disaster with costs going up while demand for shipping on the project going down. Two of the companies with the largest percentage of shipping capacity on the MVP (EQT 58% and Consolidated Edison 12.5%) have been trying to unload their share of MVP’s capacity without success. Toby Rice, EQT’s CEO, admitted in EQT’s July earnings call that there was already more pipeline capacity than was needed to transport the gas being produced. His statement affirms what many financial journals and reports have been saying that there is no economic necessity for the MVP.

It appears RGC Resources is trying to pass along their MVP costs to their subsidiary Roanoke Gas’s customers. This is the second time they have tried to pass along their MVP expenses by raising rates. The last time the SCC made Roanoke Gas return the money to their customers. When Roanoke Gas raises their rates it hurts schools, businesses, families and disportionality poor people. Poor people are more likely to be transient and not able to receive credits after SCC rulings.

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