Columbia Gas customers to see rate increase
Columbia Gas customers in Warren County will see a rate increase starting next year.
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved Columbia for an increase of about half what the company asked.
Columbia requested an increase that would have generated an additional $82.2 million for the company. PUC approved a smaller increase – one that will bring the company an additional $44.5 million.
“Per the rates addressed in both settlements, the total average monthly bill of a residential customer using 70 therms of gas per month will increase from $123.24 to $128.96 (4.6%), compared to the original request from Columbia Gas, which would have raised that same total monthly residential bill from $123.24 to $135.67 (10.09%),” according to PUC.
There are about 2,500 Columbia customers in Warren County.
“Columbia Gas views this as a fair and reasonable adjustment of rates for its significant investment in Pennsylvania,” Communications Manager Lee Gierczynski said. “The base rate adjustment approval allows an increase in annual revenues of approximately $44.5 million.”
“The Pennsylvania PUC determines what Columbia Gas’s rates will be, and even after the approved rate adjustment, the average total bill for a residential customer will still be more than 10 percent lower than it was 20 years ago, when adjusted for inflation,” Gierczynski said.
“The decision to ask the PUC to approve a rate adjustment is never made lightly,” he said. “We have a responsibility to continue the safe and reliable operation of our system, and that includes assessing the financial need to support our continued critical infrastructure replacement program and identify additional system risks while maintaining the safe operation of our system across our entire service area.”
“This rate adjustment approved by the PUC provides us with an opportunity to earn a fair return on our infrastructure capital investments and pipeline safety upgrades,” he said. “Since 2007, Columbia Gas has invested over $2.8 billion to modernize and expand our natural gas distribution system in Pennsylvania. Of that amount, approximately $2.1 billion was dedicated to replacing more than 1,170 miles of aging bare steel and cast iron pipe.”
“In 2022 alone, we plan to invest $379 million in Pennsylvania, with $275.8 million dedicated to upgrading aging underground infrastructure throughout the 26 Pennsylvania counties where we provide natural gas service,” Gierczynski said.
The company offers assistance and efficiency programs to its customers, he said. “We are committed to providing our customers with the tools and resources to stay safe and warm in their homes. More information can be found at www.columbiagaspa.com/assistance.”