COLUMBIA GAS ASKS PUCO FOR A $212 MILLION (27%) RATE HIKE. MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD!
Ohio Consumers’ Counsel's View:
“Columbia’s $212 million rate increase request would increase the distribution portion of a typical residential consumer’s bill by 27%. The PUCO should deny $202 million of Columbia’s $212 million rate increase request.”
The PUCO will decide how much Columbia can charge its consumers, after it hears from the public and case participants. The Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC) represents residential consumers in the case. Update: OCC’s request has been granted for a public hearing in Toledo that was missing from the PUCO’s schedule.
Three Ways to Exercise Your Right to Be Heard at the PUCO:
IN-PERSON: 2:30 p.m. Friday, October 14 – Toledo City Council Chambers, 1 Government Center (N. Erie St. at Jackson St.), Toledo, Ohio 43604
OCC offers tips on how to testify at local public hearings at: http://bit.ly/how-to-testify
ONLINE: Click on “File a Public Comment” at https://bit.ly/Columbia-rate-2022.
BY MAIL: Send a letter referencing Columbia Gas and PUCO Case 21-637 to: Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, 180 E. Broad St., 11th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.
Columbia Gas' Proposal:
Columbia Gas is requesting a $212 million rate increase (a 27% increase) in consumers’ monthly bills for natural gas distribution service. Distribution service is the delivery of natural gas through pipelines to consumers’ homes and businesses. Columbia’s delivery charges and the charges for the supply of natural gas are separate parts of consumers’ bills.
Columbia’s proposal would nearly triple its current fixed monthly base distribution charge from $16.75 to $46.31. Columbia proposes that in five years residential consumers could be paying up to $80 per month in fixed charges, before they use even a single unit of natural gas. Higher fixed charges favor utilities by guaranteeing their revenues, at the expense of consumers’ ability to lower their bills by reducing usage.
Consumers’ Counsel’s Proposal:
- Columbia’s proposed rate increase of $212 million is about $202 million too high.
- The PUCO Staff’s proposed rate increase of $35 million to $58 million is too high.
- OCC proposes that the PUCO Commissioners limit the rate increase to about $10 million.
- Columbia proposes to charge an 11% profit to consumers.
- The PUCO Staff proposes a profit for Columbia of 9% to 10% to charge to consumers.
- OCC proposes limiting Columbia’s charges to a profit of 8.7%.
- Columbia proposes increasing its monthly fixed charges from $16.75 to $46.31 now – and then up to $80 per month in five years.
- OCC opposes high fixed charges because they deny consumers the ability to lower their gas bills by reducing usage. E.g., If you were away from home and used no gas for the entire month, Columbia would still bill you for the full fixed charge, even if it rises to $80 monthly in five years.
Some of the Other Issues:
- Columbia has bad timing for a rate increase, given many Ohioans’ financial difficulties from soaring energy prices, inflation, poverty, the possibility of a recession, and lingering impacts of the pandemic.
- OCC opposes Columbia’s requests to charge consumers for certain executive bonuses and a $300,000 exercise facility at the utility’s headquarters. The CEO of Columbia Gas’s parent company made $9.5 million in compensation in 2021.
- OCC asks for a $10 million bill-payment assistance program for low-income and working-poor consumers, funded by Columbia’s stockholders.
- All of OCC’s objections can be seen at: https://bit.ly/occ-objections-columbia-22
Want to Know More?
Here is a link to the PUCO docket with all the filings from the participants: https://bit.ly/Columbia-rate-2022.
Rate Case Questions?
Call or e-mail the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, your advocate, at 1-877-742-5622 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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