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COLUMBIA GAS RECEIVES PERMISSION TO ADJUST GAS COST RATE

 HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania Thursday, Feb. 4, received permission from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to increase its gas cost recovery rate by 19 cents per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) to be effective retroactively from Jan. 1.
 Columbia filed for the adjustment with the commission on Dec. 24, 1992, in order to offset higher-than-anticipated gas prices the company was paying for gas. The increase is based on the company's actual gas costs paid between October and December 1992.
 Gary J. Robinson, president of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, said, "We are pleased with the commission's decision to allow us to institute the new rate. Without the increase, customers could have been faced with a significant rate increase in October 1993 when the next gas cost recovery rate goes into effect."
 Robinson said that even with the increase in gas costs, customers will be paying about 4 percent less than they did this time last year, and will be paying about 17 percent less today than they did in 1984 when gas costs were at their peak.
 With the increase, the average monthly bill of the typical residential customer who uses 10 Mcf of gas per month will increase from $58.20 to $60.15 or by about 3 percent. On an annual basis, the typical residential customer's bill will increase from $698.37 to $721.75.
 "The company does not make a profit from the gas it purchases for customers. The actual costs are passed on to customers dollar for dollar," he said.
 He pointed out that Columbia keeps its gas costs to a minimum by purchasing the most reasonably priced gas available on both a long-term and short-term basis.
 Columbia had notified the commission as required on Oct. 29, 1992, and again on Nov. 20, 1992, that the price it was paying for gas was 1 percent higher than levels contained in its current gas cost recovery rate, which went into effect Oct. 1, 1992. Along with the Oct. 29, 1992, notification, the company also filed a petition with the commission for an increase in its gas cost rate.
 In an order issued Dec. 22, 1992, the commission denied the Oct. 29 petition for an increase because it had contained some projected prices for gas, but said it would approve an increase based on actual prices the company paid for gas. The increase approved Thursday by the PUC was based on the company's actual costs paid for gas.
 Several factors caused the market price of natural gas to increase at a more rapid rate last year than previously anticipated, Robinson said.
 "Cooler weather last year in the spring and early summer along with increased use of gas during the summer months by industrial customers placed a greater-than-expected demand on producers. Another factor was concern over damage to some gas-producing wells in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Andrew."
 Columbia customers may avoid fluctuations in their monthly bills by taking advantage of the convenient budget payment plan that establishes equal payments throughout the year.
 Customers also may check with their local Columbia offices for information on special payment programs and other assistance the company offers for customers who experience difficulties in making their payments.
 Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, with corporate offices in Pittsburgh, is the largest investor-owned natural gas utility in the state and serves more than 360,000 customers in 26 counties and 449 communities. The company is one of five natural gas distribution companies of the Columbia Gas Distribution Companies, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, which serves a total of about 1.9 million customers.
 -0- 2/5/93
 /CONTACT: Karen L. Miller, 614-460-4607, or James E. Vitak, 614-460-4601, both of Columbia Gas in Columbus, Ohio/


CO: Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: UTI OIL SU:

KC-DM -- PG015 -- 3771 02/05/93 18:35 EST
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Date:Feb 5, 1993
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