PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved a joint settlement for smaller natural gas distribution rate increases for UGI customers on Thursday. The cost will go up, but it will increase less than UGI initially requested, according to the PUC.

Customers’ bills will increase by $5.71 (6.2%) on average by October 2023, according to the PUC. The original amount requested by UGI was $9.39 (9.5%) per month, the PUC says.

The changes will be phased in via a two-step process, the PUC says.

The joint settlement allows for a $38 million increase in UGI revenues effective Oct. 29, 2022, followed by an additional $11.45 million increase effective Oct. 1, 2023, according to the PUC.

The PUC says the average bill for a residential customer using 73.1 cubic feet of natural gas per month will increase from $92.49 to $96.93 per month on Oct. 29, 2022, and will rise again to $98.21 on Oct. 1, 2023.

The settlement also includes improvements to UGI’s customer assistance and universal service programs, according to the PUC, including a pilot program to engage with potential low-income customers and additional funding, extended eligibility, and increased maximum project size for the Low Income Usage Reduction Program.

UGI provides natural gas service to over 650,000 customers in more than 45 counties in Pennsylvania, the PUC noted.