May 1, 2014
Contact: Bob Innes
(804) 512-1425 - cellular
Columbia Gas of Virginia, has filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to increase annual base rates effective with October 2014 bills. The requested increase is necessary to recover investments and other costs associated with the Company’s proactive multi-year effort to modernize its natural gas distribution system and improve system integrity and reliability, as well as recovering other cost increases that have occurred since its last rate case. The Company’s request for a base rate increase is its first in four years.
If approved by the SCC, the change would adjust the total monthly natural gas bill for a typical residential customer by an average of $6.90 per month ($82.77 per year). This comparison is based on the current rates in effect as of April 30, 2014 and 683 Ccf in annual usage.
The rate proposal contains a request for a net increase in revenues of $24.9 million per year, and a request to include in base rates $6.9 million currently being recovered through the Company’s infrastructure replacement program under a separate rate mechanism. The filing, which requests a total increase of $31.8 million per year including both of the items above, marks the beginning of the public process of setting base rates for a regulated utility, as required by the SCC. A decision on the filing is expected by the end of the year.
“Our customers expect for us to deliver natural gas in a safe and reliable manner, and meeting this expectation requires us to continually assess our system and the resources needed to maintain safety and reliability.” 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. Over the past four years Columbia has made the necessary investments to aggressively replace aging infrastructure and expand facilities, enabling us to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing leaks on its system. We have also expanded the resources dedicated to enhancing pipeline safety programs. These efforts are providing tangible benefits to the customers and communities we serve across Virginia.”
Levander noted that the company’s infrastructure modernization investment, in addition to improved system reliability, has directly contributed to a reduction in Greenhouse Gas Emissions of approximately 1,900 metric tons of CO2e, or the equivalent of removing 9,000 vehicles from Virginia roads.
In addition to the investments in pipeline modernization and safety improvements, the Company’s filing reflects investments in deploying Automated Meter Reading technology across its territory, which will lead to a 70 percent reduction in meter reading costs. Other components of the case include implementation of changes to enhance pipeline safety activities under current federal regulations, and a proposal to transition to a billing process based upon the heat content of the natural gas actually consumed by a customer, rather than the volume of natural gas delivered.
Columbia Gas was last authorized to increase its base rates effective January 1, 2011. Base rates only include those costs associated with the delivery, distribution and customer services operations for Columbia Gas. Base rates currently represent approximately 44 percent of a customer’s total bill. The remaining 56 percent are the natural gas commodity costs and are not included in the base rate adjustment requested in this case. These costs are instead directly passed through to the customer on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Natural gas commodity costs have been relatively low due to an abundant domestic supply.
About Columbia Gas of Virginia
Columbia Gas of Virginia delivers safe, reliable and clean natural gas to customers in portions of Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads, suburban Richmond, Central Virginia, and the Shenandoah Valley, the Lynchburg region and parts of Western Virginia. With headquarters in Chesterfield County, the company is one of the 7 energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) serving 3.8 million natural gas and electric customers. Always call 811 before you dig and Dig with CARE. Learn more at www.ColumbiaGasVa.com