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Columbia Gas of Maryland Files to Recover Investment in Replacing Aging Infrastructure

Friday, April 13, 2018

Columbia Gas of Maryland, Inc. (Columbia Gas), a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), filed a request today with the Public Service Commission of Maryland (PSC) to adjust its base rates for distribution service so it can continue to replace aging pipeline and adopt pipeline safety upgrades.

“Our number one priority is maintaining the safety of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Mike Huwar, 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.”

From 2007 to 2017, Columbia Gas invested over $120 million in the modernization and expansion of its distribution system in Maryland. Of that amount, approximately $80 million was dedicated to replacing 72 miles of aging bare steel and cast iron pipe. In 2018, Columbia Gas will invest approximately $25.7 million in Maryland, with $21 million being invested to upgrade aging underground 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 today’s filing, Columbia Gas is seeking an annual revenue increase of approximately $6 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 Huwar.

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 $76.72 per month to $87.03 (a 13.44% percent increase). The average total bill for a small commercial customer who purchases 250 therms of gas per month from Columbia Gas would increase from $258.24 per month to $287.77 (an 11.44% increase). The average total bill for an industrial customer who purchases 4,040 therms of gas per month from Columbia Gas would increase from $2,948.47 per month to $3,011.80 (a 2.15% increase).

Columbia Gas of Maryland Director of Rates and Regulatory Affairs Nicole Paloney 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 third 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 a home’s monthly gas consumption.

Tax calculations for our customers’ rates in this filing have been made reflecting the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) which was signed into law December 22, 2017. Our proposed rate adjustment reflects the new 21% corporate federal tax rate, which was reduced from 34% under the TCJA effective January 1, 2018. Additionally, customers’ bills started to reflect the new tax rate in April of 2018, and we are currently passing back to customers the difference between taxes collected at the federal 34% tax rate versus the 21% tax rate from January 1, 2018 to March 31, 2018.

The process for a general rate proceeding before the PSC can take up to seven months and Columbia Gas expects that new rates would be effective near the end of 2018. Customers with questions regarding the proposal may call 1-888-460-4332 or visit www.ColumbiaGasMD.com for more information.

About Columbia Gas of Maryland

Media Contact:
Russell Bedell 
1-717-849-0129
rbedell@nisource.com

 

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