COPY-Alagasco, Mobile Gas defend surging prices to PSC

MONTGOMERY, Ala. Alabama's largest natural gas company defended itself against claims its prices are unusually high. At a hearing yesterday, executives with Alabama Gas and Mobile Gas companies told the Alabama Public Service Commission that their rates -- while increasing rapidly -- are in line with other Southern states.

Alagasco officials blame recent rate hikes totaling about 37 percent on wholesale prices that jumped amid increased demand and supply problems caused by hurricanes Ivan and Katrina.Documents provided by the companies showed its rates are higher than prices in Mississippi and Tennessee but lower than rates charged in Georgia and Florida.The findings are contrary to a Mobile newspaper's article in November that found Alabama rates were among the highest in the South.

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