Columbia Gas of Maryland, Inc., a subsidiary of NiSource Inc., filed a request with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to adjust its base rates for distribution service so it can continue to expedite the replacement of ageing pipe as well as adopt pipeline safety upgrades.
"Our number one priority is maintaining the safety of our customers and the communities we serve," said Mark Kempic, President of Columbia Gas of Maryland. "We have made, and will continue to make, substantial capital investments in our system to update the safe and reliable system we currently operate. We believe this filing provides a number of tangible benefits to our customers."
Since 2007, Columbia Gas has invested approximately US$86 million to modernise and expand its distribution system in Maryland. Of that amount, approximately US$54 million was dedicated to replacing more than 57 miles of ageing bare steel and cast iron pipe. In 2016, Columbia Gas will invest approximately US$15 million in Maryland, with more than US$9 million being invested to upgrade ageing infrastructure.
"We are proud of our pipeline replacement program and our ability to continue to serve our valued customers safely and reliably, but our work doesn't stop there," said Columbia Gas of Maryland Vice President and General Manager Mike Davidson. "We also remain committed to providing a positive customer experience through an educated and trained workforce focused on safely meeting or exceeding all federal and state requirements while operating our distribution system."
In the filing, Columbia Gas is seeking an annual revenue increase of approximately US$6.5 million.
"We are working more efficiently than ever, and we will continue to look for additional ways to make the most cost-effective decisions for our customers," said Kempic. "Even with this filing, the total average residential customer bill, adjusted for inflation, would still be 22% lower than it was in 1996."
If the adjustment is approved by the PSC, the average total bill for a residential customer who purchases 70 therms of gas per month from Columbia Gas would increase from US$63.82 – US$77.44 (21.34% increase). The average total bill for a small commercial customer who purchases 240 therms of gas per month from Columbia Gas would increase from US$208.71 – US$245.13 (17.45% increase). The average total bill for an industrial customer who purchases 3610 therms of gas per month from Columbia Gas would increase from US$2310.12 – US$2357.41 (2.05% increase).
Columbia Gas of Maryland Director of Rates and Regulatory Affairs Adam Lanier, noted: "The impact on the customer's bill associated with this filing is softened thanks to continued low, stable natural gas costs. On behalf of our customers, we work with suppliers to secure the best possible natural gas prices, while maintaining the reliability of gas supply during peak demand periods."
Gas costs generally represent about a quarter of a residential customer's total bill. Columbia Gas purchases its gas on the wholesale market and under Maryland law, passes these costs on to its customers without mark-up or profit. The gas cost portion of a residential customer's monthly bill is based entirely on their home's monthly gas consumption.
Edited from source by Stephanie Roker
Read the article online at: https://www.worldpipelines.com/equipment-and-safety/18042016/columbia-gas-adjusts-base-rates-for-distribution-service/