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PSC TO DECIDE ON MTN. FUEL'S CALCULATION REQUEST

The Public Service Commission is expected to decide early next week whether it will change the way in which Mountain Fuel Supply Co. gas rates are calculated.

Mountain Fuel seeks to switch the "test year" on which rates are figured so that it is a future period, instead of an actual year that has already passed."The test year is a collection of data representing our expenses and revenues for a one-year period," said Louise Jacobsen, spokes-woman for the utility. "It's all the data that go into the rate-making process to determine what our rates should be."

During a hearing before the state's Public Service Commission on Thursday, Mountain Fuel presented arguments for changing the period to a "future test year," meaning a projection of what expenses and income that Mountain Fuel expects for the year.

Mountain Fuel is now required to present information about what actually happened in a given year, which is called a historic test year. A third option is to modify the historic test year's amounts, factoring in known and measurable changes that are certain to affect prices or income in the future.

Julie Orchard, speaking for the PSC, said the commissioners "hope to have a decision by Monday or Tuesday of next week" on the test year.

Meanwhile, a rate hike request that Mountain Fuel filed in March - asking for an increase in gas prices of more than $9.5 million per year - will take somewhat longer to decide. The PSC will hold hearings in the rate case for about a week beginning Aug. 9.