Columbia Gas of PA customers to get credit on Nov. bill

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania has announced that more than 350,000 customers will be receiving a one-time credit following an annual review of its gas purchases.  The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) approved Columbia Gas’ request to allocate more than $77 million to customer’s accounts, based on the amount of natural gas purchased from Columbia Gas between Oct. 1, 2008, and Sept. 30, 2009.

Each year, gas utilities in Pennsylvania must conduct a thorough review of their gas costs.  Part of that review involves the determination of whether there is a need to charge customers to recover under-collected gas costs or to provide a credit based on over-collections for the prior year. By law, gas utilities cannot make a profit on the natural gas they sell to customers, but they are permitted to recoup the actual costs incurred in purchasing the natural gas.  This year, natural gas prices dropped significantly after the January 2009 quarterly rate adjustment.  This credit makes certain that customers receive the benefit of the lower-than-expected gas prices.

Typically, such credits are allocated over a 12-month period on a customer’s bill.  However, in an effort to ease the impact of winter bills during the current economy, Columbia Gas filed a request with the PUC on Sept. 17, 2009, requesting permission to apply a one-time, lump-sum credit to its customers’ bills during the November 2009 billing cycle. 

“We applaud the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission for approving our request to make this credit in a one-time amount,” Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania President M. Carol Fox said.  “Now, more than ever, customers can use this type of boost as we head into the winter and holiday months.”

The average residential customer will receive a one-time credit of approximately $170, which is based on actual usage from Oct. 1, 2008 through Sept. 30, 2009.  To be eligible, the customer must have purchased natural gas from Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania for a minimum of one month during that timeframe. Customers enrolled in Columbia Gas’ Budget Plan also will receive the credit.  Columbia will apply the credit in November and review the customer’s budget payment plan amount to determine if it needs to be adjusted.  Customers are encouraged to carefully review their bill for the budget amount that they should pay. 

Columbia Gas encourages all customers to carefully review their bills each month and to log onto www.columbiagaspa.com for more information about the credit, and how to use energy wisely and safely.