Columbia Gas customers eye lower prices, tax reform savings


COLUMBUS – Customers on Columbia Gas of Ohio’s Standard Choice Offer (SCO) expect to see dramatically lower prices in March, as warmer weather drops the market price for natural gas. In addition, the company proposed to reduce rates thanks to savings created by federal tax reform, investing more than $200 million in safety and reliability improvements while cutting charges to customers.

“We’re happy to provide savings at a time when many customers have faced higher bills due to December and January’s bitter cold weather,” said Dan Creekmur, Columbia Gas of Ohio president.

The March SCO price of 41 cents per hundred cubic feet of gas is down 20 percent compared to February. Market prices for natural gas have declined thanks to forecasts of continued warmer-than-average temperatures. SCO customers will further benefit starting in April when the adjustment suppliers add to the market price of natural gas is reduced by about 15 percent.

Savings from tax reform would eliminate a planned $1.24 monthly increase in the charge for the Infrastructure Replacement Program (IRP) under a proposal made this week to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO). The proposal would actually reduce the current charge by 5 cents per month. Customers would receive the benefits of $207 million in gas main and service line replacements made during 2017 at no additional charge. Since 2008, the IRP has increased safety and reliability by replacing about 2,000 miles of aging gas lines in neighborhoods around Ohio.

“Our tax costs are included in the rates we charge our customers, so lower tax rates mean we are able to keep our service as affordable as possible,” Creekmur said. He added that Columbia Gas will work with the PUCO to pass back additional savings from tax reform.