HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today approved a joint settlement that reduces a base rate increase request filed by Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania Inc. (Columbia Gas) on March 16, 2018.
The Commission voted 5-0 to approve a Joint Petition for Partial Settlement, which reduces Columbia Gas’ requested rate increase by approximately 45 percent. Columbia Gas’ initial request called for a $46.9 million (8.16 percent) increase in annual distribution operating revenues. Today’s action by the Commission approved a revenue increase of $26 million (4.52 percent), which becomes effective Dec. 16, 2018.
Under the settlement, the typical monthly bill for a residential customer using 70 therms of gas per month will increase by $4.11, from $91.63 to $95.74 (4.49 percent). Under Columbia Gas’ original proposal, the average total monthly bill for the same residential customer would have increased by $8.25 from $91.63 to $99.88 (9 percent).
Additionally, the settlement provides that approximately $23.8 million associated with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will be refunded to customers in full over an eighteen-month period upon the new rates taking effect, to be calculated based on the liability booked by the Company in revenues for service rendered from Jan. 1, 2018 through Dec. 15, 2018. Customers will be refunded the approximately $23.8 million via a negative surcharge applied to customers’ bills on a percentage basis with interest, beginning no later than Dec. 16, 2018.
In a statement at today’s public meeting, Chairman Gladys M. Brown noted that the Columbia Gas settlement maintains Columbia’s existing Weather Normalization Adjustment – a type of alternative ratemaking that the Commission continues to encourage other utilities to explore, and a type of alternative ratemaking addressed by the General Assembly with the passage of Act 58 of 2018.
A joint petition to approve the settlement was agreed to by all formal parties in the case, including: Columbia Gas; the PUC’s independent Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement; the state Office of Consumer Advocate; the state Office of Small Business Advocate; Columbia Industrial Intervenors; Dominion Retail, Inc.; Shipley Choice, LLC; Interstate Gas Supply, Inc.; Direct Energy Business, LLC; Direct Energy Services, LLC; Direct Energy Business Marketing, LLC; Coalition for Affordable Utility Services and Energy Efficiency in Pennsylvania; Community Action Association of Pennsylvania; Pennsylvania State University and four self-represented complainants.
Columbia Gas provides natural gas service to about 426,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in portions of 26 counties in western, northwestern, central and southern Pennsylvania.
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Docket No.: R-2018-2647577