Suffolk customers see gas bills rise

Published 8:29 pm Saturday, November 8, 2014

Columbia Gas of Virginia is using new base rates to calculate customer bills. These base rates were proposed in Columbia’s rate case, filed on April 30, with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and were previously authorized by the SCC to be implemented on this date on an interim basis, pending the final outcome in the proceeding.

The SCC authorized Columbia to collect the proposed rates that will be subject to customer refunds after the SCC issues a final order in the case. Any refunds will be determined from the final order in the case, which is expected in early 2015. Columbia was last authorized to change its base rates on Jan. 1, 2011.

With the interim base rates, typical residential customers will see their total monthly bill adjust by an average of $6.90 per month ($82.77 per year.) This comparison is for base rates in effect as of April 30, 2014, and 683 Ccf in annual usage. A Ccf is the measurement used for natural gas usage and is the equivalent of 100 cubic feet.

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The adjustment to the base rates does not affect the natural gas commodity portion of a customer monthly bill, which represents approximately 56 percent of the average customer bill and are not included in the base rate adjustment requested in this case. These costs are instead directly passed through to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis.

“The major driver of the base rate case is the additional costs required to support company initiatives directed towards continued focus on pipeline and public safety,” said Carl Levander, president of Columbia Gas of Virginia. “This case is fundamentally about maintaining our ability to meet the challenges of operating in this environment and continue providing safe, reliable service to our customers and the community.”

Levander added that during the past four years, Columbia has also made investments to modernize its underground natural gas system and to aggressively replace aging infrastructure and expand facilities, enabling Columbia to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing leaks on its system.

Columbia customers are encouraged to take the following steps to help manage their energy costs:

Take advantage of cash rebates through WarmWise, Columbia’s energy efficiency and conservation program.

Enroll in the free Budget Payment Plan

Perform furnace maintenance

Install caulking or weather-stripping around windows or doors

Keep all registers and air return ducts clear of furniture, carpet and drapes and vacuum them occasionally

Add insulation to the attic or crawl spaces

Install a programmable thermostat

For more information on steps to manage energy costs, customers can call Columbia at 1-800-543-8911 or visit Columbia’s web site at