Gas rate increase sought

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Canal Winchester residents with Columbia Gas of Ohio service could find their basic rate bills going up if the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) rules in favor of the utility company.

On Feb. 1, Columbia Gas notified the village it intends to file in March for its first base rate increase in 14 years. While costs for gas traveling through the pipeline continue to rise, the base rate has stayed the same since 1994.

According to a letter sent to Canal Winchester officials by Columbia Gas representatives, "If the proposal is approved as filed, our typical residential customer would see their monthly bill increase by $5.64 per month. Our base rates generate the revenue necessary to build, maintain, and operate our natural gas distribution system, which includes 19,000 miles of pipeline, regulator stations, meters, and other facilities. The base rate part of the bill is the only portion where Columbia earns a profit and it hasn’t changed since 1994. Since then, Columbia Gas of Ohio has invested nearly $800 million into our distribution system."

Columbia’s proposal, which raises base rates by $82.4 million overall and affects 1.4 million customers in 60 counties, would fund a 25-year program replacing 4,000 miles of old steel and cast iron pipe with new pipe, that doesn’t corrode and is easier to repair if damaged, and installation of automatic meter reading devices on 380,000 indoor meters.

"We believe that through this case, we will be able to provide our customers tools to reduce their gas costs, while also boosting the safety and reliability of our gas delivery system," wrote Jack Partridge, president, and Dave Monte, general manager of Field Operations. "Columbia Gas of Ohio will make significant infrastructure investments that will benefit Ohio’s economy. The PUCO will thoroughly review Columbia’s proposal before taking any action. The process will include public hearings throughout Columbia’s service territory, where customers and stakeholders may comment on the plan."


Other Canal Winchester news

•During the Feb. 18 Canal Winchester Village Council meeting, Mayor Michael Ebert recommended Steve Donahue and Carl Heister as his nominees to serve on the CRA Housing Council now through 2010. Development Director Chris Strayer recommended Violet Township Fire Chief Kenn Taylor and Madison Township Fire Chief Clifford Mason also serve throughout the same time period. Both recommendations were approved by the council, in addition to the appointment of Strayer and Planning and Zoning Administrator Allan Neimayer to the Fairfield County Tax Incentive Review Council.

•The village will spend $21,550 for 143 trees as part of the 2008 spring tree planting program. The contract was awarded to GAG, Inc., which was the lowest bidder among a dozen companies vying for the project. The highest bid was more than $44,646.

•March 15 will be officially recognized as "Scouting for Food Day" throughout Canal Winchester. Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts will go door-to-door collecting donations of canned food and other food items for the Canal Winchester Food Pantry.

•AARP continues to provide free tax assistance service at the community center on Wednesdays through April 9. Individuals 50 and older, disabled, or classified as low-income are eligible for the service. There are only a few openings left. Call 837-8276 for information.

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