08/12/2013 08:57 EDT | Updated 10/12/2013 05:12 EDT

First part of multi-year SaskEnergy rate increase OKed, pending cabinet approval

REGINA - Saskatchewan residents will be hoping the winter isn't all that cold now that SaskEnergy bills are set to increase.

The Crown natural gas provider had applied for a two-year rate increase, planned to come into effect in late 2013 and 2014.

While the price of gas isn't going up, the company says it needs to increase what it charges customers to deliver the product.

It's apparently getting more expensive because of a growing population and safety and infrastructure concerns.

The first year's application has been approved by the rate review panel.

SaskEnergy had been asking for an average increase of 3.6 per cent, which should come into effect on Sept. 1, pending the approval of cabinet.

The application for an average 2.4 per cent increase to go into effect in September of 2014 won't be decided just yet.

The panel has never considered a multi-year application before, though SaskEnergy says it is becoming more common in the industry.

The panel says it doesn't have enough information just yet, citing concerns that the need for an increase could rise.