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COLUMBIA GAS DECREASES CUSTOMERS' GAS BILLS BY 5.5 PERCENT

 COLUMBIA GAS DECREASES CUSTOMERS' GAS BILLS BY 5.5 PERCENT
 HARRISBURG, Pa., April 8 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania customers are seeing a 5.5 percent reduction in their gas bills as a result of two rate decreases the company recently put into effect.
 Upon receiving approval April 2 from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), Columbia reduced its current gas cost recovery rate on an interim basis by 21 cents per 1,000 cubic feet for residential customers, effective April 3.
 At the same time, Columbia also received commission approval to reduce its take-or-pay (TOP) rate by 10.6 cents per 1,000 cubic feet for residential customers, effective April 5.
 TOP costs are charges incurred by pipelines when they do not take minimum quantities of gas specified under terms of gas purchase contracts.
 The combined effect of both rate decreases lowers the average monthly bill of the typical residential customer who uses 1,000 cubic feet of gas per month, to $59.46 from $62.86. On an annual basis, customers will see their bills decrease to $713.52 from $754.33.
 The gas cost decrease, which Columbia asked to take effect on an interim basis in a March 2 filing with the PUC, reduced gas costs by $11.6 million per year -- a 3.7 percent reduction in the average residential customer's monthly bill.
 Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania President Gary J. Robinson said, "We asked for an interim change in gas costs to allow customers to receive the benefit of lower rates six months earlier than usual. Normally, gas costs are adjusted only once a year on Oct. 1."
 Robinson said, "Natural gas prices have fallen at the wellhead due to lower demand from continued warmer-than-normal temperatures. Columbia took this opportunity to purchase the lower-priced gas and pass the savings along to its customers."
 The PUC requires the company to submit a purchased gas cost recovery filing on an annual basis in order to adjust customers' bills for any increases or decreases in the cost of gas purchased by Columbia.
 In addition to the interim gas cost reduction request, Columbia submitted its annual gas cost filing with the commission April 1 requesting to reduce its gas costs by an additional 11 cents per 1,000 cubic feet, effective Oct. 1.
 If the 11-cent decrease is approved by the commission, the total decrease in gas costs alone will amount to $16.4 million a year -- about a 5.2 percent overall reduction in the average residential customer's monthly bill.
 The take-or-pay decrease recently approved by the PUC reduces Columbia's annual TOP recovery costs by $8.8 million -- a 1.8 percent reduction in the average residential customer's monthly bill. Columbia filed its request for the TOP decrease March 6.
 The annual filing stems from a proposal Columbia made with the commission in March 1990 to recover over a four-year period TOP costs billed to Columbia by its interstate pipeline suppliers. Columbia began recovery from customers in April 1990.
 Columbia's proposal provided that it would submit annual TOP filings reflecting its latest estimate of TOP costs 30 days prior to April 5 each year.
 Robinson said, "Columbia was able to request a decrease in TOP costs this year because the amount of TOP costs it was billed for by interstate pipelines has decreased.
 "In addition," Robinson continued, "because Columbia recovered most of its TOP costs in the initial years of the four-year recovery period, the amount for the third year, which it is now in, is much less."
 Robinson pointed out that with the interim gas cost recovery decrease and TOP decrease, Columbia's average monthly bill for a typical residential customer is 18.4 percent lower than in 1984 when natural gas prices were at their peak.
 Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania is the largest investor-owned natural gas utility in the state, serving more than 360,000 customers in 26 counties.
 -0- 4/8/92
 /CONTACT: Karen Miller, 614-460-4607, or Roger Morris, 614-460-4601, both of Columbia Gas in Columbus, Ohio/ CO: Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: UTI OIL SU:


JT-CD -- PG007 -- 6483 04/08/92 17:51 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Apr 8, 1992
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