Columbia Gas of Virginia files to recover investments

virginiaColumbia Gas of Virginia has filed with the Virginia State Corporation Commission a request to recover investments and other costs associated with the company’s ongoing proactive initiatives to improve the overall safety and reliability of its natural gas distribution system and to accommodate increasing demand for service.

“The foundational commitment to our customers is simple – provide safe and dependable natural gas service at a reasonable price, period,” said Brent Archer, President of Columbia Gas of Virginia. “Our ongoing investments in our modernization program, combined with pipeline safety initiatives and our efforts to deploy a well-trained, qualified workforce continues to make our system safer and more reliable, which provides tangible benefits to all our customers.”

If approved by the SCC, the request would increase the total monthly natural gas bill for a typical residential customer by $9.14 per month or 13.9%. This comparison is based on the rates in effect as of March 2016 and 5.8 Dth (Dekatherm) in monthly usage. Columbia Gas has requested that the new rates become effective October 1, 2016.

“Historically low and sustained natural gas commodity costs help us to be proactive in improving the safety and reliability of our system by managing the costs related to the modernization and safety of our infrastructure against the overall bill impact to our customers,” Archer said. “For example, the proposed rates result in a typical residential bill that is approximately $1.60 less than the average bill over the past 10 years.”

The filing, which requests a total increase in revenues of $37 million per year, 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 could occur by early next year.

“We are proud of our modernization and integrity management programs and the process we use to identify, analyze and replace the pipe and other facilities most at risk,” said Phil Wilson, Columbia Gas of Virginia Vice President and General Manager  of Operations.  “We are deploying advanced technology and employee training to further advance our ability to operate and maintain our system for the benefit of the customers and communities we serve.”

Columbia Gas was last authorized to increase its base rates effective October 1, 2014.  Base rates include those costs associated with the delivery, distribution and customer services operations for Columbia Gas.  Base rates currently represent approximately 57 percent of a customer’s total bill.  The remaining 43 percent are the natural gas commodity costs and are not included in the base rate adjustment requested in this case. These commodity 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.