MAIN Program Overview
On February 19, 2016, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) approved Columbia Gas of Virginia’s MAIN Program. MAIN (Making Access to natural gas Infrastructure Now) is a program available to new customer projects that require a main extension to provide natural gas service. The program lowers or eliminates a required contribution from a developer, builder or individual customer, by deferring the project costs above and beyond the projected future revenues and recovering those costs over time, from the customers benefiting from the extension of natural gas facilities.
MAIN Program FAQ
Why did Columbia Gas seek this new method to extend natural gas into unserved areas?
In recent years, costs for materials and labor associated with the installation of new natural gas main pipelines, service lines and associated facilities for new customers in Virginia have steadily increased. This, in turn, has caused the cost of potential expansion projects for natural gas service in locations relatively close to existing mains to increase to a point that builders and developers are electing to choose other energy sources. Left unaddressed, this situation will make accessing growing markets increasingly difficult to serve, and deny consumers the opportunity to enjoy natural gas service.
In 2015, the Virginia General Assembly enacted SB1163/HB1475 (VA Code 56-610 – 56-612) to provide Virginia’s natural gas utilities with a new tool to address the rising costs to extend natural gas mains. Under the legislation, natural gas companies may develop plans to collect the required contribution from the direct beneficiaries of expanded service infrastructure through a per meter charge without being subsidized by existing customers. This is the foundation of Columbia Gas of Virginia’s MAIN (Making Access to natural gas Infrastructure Now) program.
What are the MAIN Program basics?
- Residential and Small Commercial projects are eligible for inclusion in the MAIN Program. (A small commercial customer include usage levels up to 626.6 Dekatherms annually).
- The currently approved MAIN Rider is $6.63.
- Each service address in the MAIN Program will be billed the MAIN Rider for 240 months.
How does MAIN affect existing customers?
There is no effect on existing customers. Only the customers benefiting from the expanded natural gas service will be billed the $6.63 MAIN Rider. Existing customers are not asked to subsidize this cost.
What if someone moves?
The MAIN Rider is assigned to the service address, not any individual customer account. If someone moves, the next person or company (customer) that takes natural gas service at that service address will continue to pay the MAIN Rider until the 20 year payment period has ended.
Will the $6.63 charge ever change?
The $6.63 MAIN Rider is subject to change with Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) authorization. Additionally, the MAIN Rider amount will be recalculated at program year 5 and 10 after SCC review and authorization.
Can builders pay a portion of the contribution to lower the monthly charge below $6.63?
The $6.63 MAIN Rider is not based on any one project, but instead, is based on a statewide calculation, in order to keep the cost reasonable for those individual customers that will be billed the Rider. Due to this, builders cannot pay a portion of the contribution to lower the monthly charge. However, if a builder wishes to pay the entire uneconomic portion of their project, the end use customers taking service through that project will not be billed the MAIN Rider.
What are the benefits of natural gas that MAIN Program customers can enjoy?
- IT'S COST EFFECTIVE- You can save energy and money when you convert to using natural gas to heat your home.
- IT'S COMFORTABLE- Warm Heat is Gas Heat®. Unlike other energy sources, natural gas provides instant heat as soon as it’s turned on.
- IT'S RELIABLE- Natural gas is piped directly into your home. It’s always there when you need it and you never have to worry about running out of fuel or arranging for deliveries.
- IT'S CLEAN- Natural gas is the cleanest burning fossil fuel, helping to reduce our carbon footprint.
- IT'S EFFICIENT- When you use natural gas, 90 percent of what is delivered to your home is considered useful energy.