Columbia Gas increases rates

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 28, 2004

Customers will pay almost $20 more per month; higher oil prices and market uncertainty linked to Iraq are factors

Staff Report

Columbia Gas customers will see a rate increase on their next bill scheduled for mailing on Monday.


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Last week, Columbia Gas of Virginia (Columbia) announced

the quarterly purchased gas cost adjustment.

The adjustment results in the typical residential customer paying about $19.50 per month more for the same amount of natural gas consumed last winter. The typical residential customer uses about 120 Ccf per month or approximately 600 Ccf during the winter months (November-March).

One Ccf is the equivalent of 100 cubic feet of natural gas, or 100,000 BTUs.

During the 2003-2004 winter, residential customers paid about $706.00 for 600 Ccf used during the winter months Nov.1 – March 31. That same customer can be expected to pay about $805.00 for the same 600 Ccf. The actual amount will vary depending on weather, individual comfort and usage patterns.

&uot;We work hard in our natural gas purchasing to protect our customers from the continued volatility of the energy marketplace. By balancing supply sources, we are able to deliver reliable and competitively-priced natural gas to our customers,&uot; said Kathleen O’Leary, Columbia’s president.

&uot;We will continue to monitor the changing energy marketplace and make appropriate adjustments as necessary. By law, the company passes along its cost to purchase natural gas on a dollar-for-dollar basis without markup or profit,&uot; she added &uot;The distribution and delivery service portion of a customer’s bill has not changed since 1998. &uot;

According to the Department of Energy, natural gas storage levels are at five-year record levels nationwide and natural gas production is slowly increasing to meet the rising demand. Overall natural gas supply and demand remains in tight balance.

Factors driving up the wholesale price of natural gas include: the influence of higher oil prices on the natural gas market, uncertainty caused by the Iraq war and short-term supply shortfalls caused by damaged offshore pipelines from Hurricane Ivan. The increasing energy requirements of the improving economy are also placing upward pressure on natural gas prices.

Columbia offers several billing and payment services to help customers reduce the impact of winter heating expenses on household budgets. Customers can contact Columbia’s DirectLink at 1-800-543-8911 to join the budget payment plan, to make payment arrangements or to learn about energy assistance programs.

The wise use of energy can help mitigate winter heating bills. Take time to seal out drafts around windows and doors with caulk and weatherstripping; install door sweeps on exterior doors, check the insulation levels in attics and crawl spaces and change furnace filters regularly this winter.

For more conservation and energy-saving tips go to or the Department of Energy at

Columbia Gas of Virginia, with headquarters in Chesterfield County, is one of the 10 energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI). Columbia Gas of Virginia serves more than 213,000 customers in portions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond, Central Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, the Lynchburg region and parts of Western Virginia. NiSource distribution companies serve 3.7 million gas and electric customers primarily in nine states.

More information about Columbia Gas of Virginia is available on the World Wide Web at