WASHINGTON — Fluctuating fuel prices and a reluctance to raise rates for customers in a down economy could put pressure on public utility credits in the near-term, analysts from the three major credit rating agencies warned.

Speaking at an American Public Power Association conference in Memphis last week, Jeffrey Panger, a director at Standard & Poor's warned that utilities could face pressure from rising prices of natural gas as well as the slow recovery and the possible need for increased spending to meet environmental regulations.

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