W.Va. residents' utility bills down 5 pct in 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A new report says West Virginians paid less for utilities in 2012 than in the previous year, primarily because of a decline in natural gas utility rates.

The report released Wednesday by the Public Service Commission's Consumer Advocate Division says the average West Virginia utility customer paid $277.22 a month for gas, electricity, water and telephone service in 2012. That's a 5.3 percent drop from 2011, when the average monthly cost was $292.81.

Utility rates ranged from $262.67 in Logan to $295.66 in Bluefield.

Consumer Advocate Division director Byron Harris says natural gas rates in the state have fallen 30 percent since 2008, but electric and water utility rates have both increased by more than a third over that period. Telephone rates have remained stable.