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COLUMBIA GAS NOTIFIES COMMISSION OF HIGHER GAS PRICES; ASKS FOR INCREASE IN GAS COST RECOVERY RATE

 COLUMBIA GAS NOTIFIES COMMISSION OF HIGHER GAS PRICES;
 ASKS FOR INCREASE IN GAS COST RECOVERY RATE
 HARRISBURG, Pa., Oct. 29 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania today notified the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) that the price it's paying for natural gas is more than 1 percent higher than levels contained in its current gas cost recovery rate, which went into effect Oct. 1.
 In addition, because of the higher gas costs, Columbia petitioned the commission for an increase in its gas cost recovery rate.
 Columbia filed the notification because gas companies are required by law to notify the commission when their gas costs have changed by more than 1 percent from gas cost rates currently in effect.
 Gary J. Robinson, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania president, said, "We're asking the PUC to consider allowing us to increase our gas cost recovery rate, effective Dec. 1.
 "Without the increase, customers could be faced with a significant rate increase in October 1993 when the next gas cost recovery rate goes into effect."
 Because Columbia is now expecting a higher overall price level than was originally anticipated for the 1992-1993 winter, the company today petitioned the commission for a 24-cent per thousand cubic feet (Mcf) increase in the 1992 gas cost recovery rate for residential and other firm sales customers.
 For the typical residential customer who uses 10 Mcf of gas per month, the average monthly bill will increase from $58.20 to $60.59 or by about 4 percent. On an annual basis, average residential customers' bills will increase from $698.37 to $727.10.
 Even with the increase in gas costs, customers will be paying about 4 percent less than they did this same time last year, and will still be paying about 17 percent less today than they did in 1984 when gas costs were at their peak, Robinson said.
 "The company does not make a profit from the gas it purchases for customers. a?ctual costs are passed on to customers dollar for donted 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.
 Natural gas prices, he explained, typically swing up and down with the change of seasons because of increased demand for supplies in the winter and the easing of demand in summer months.
 However, the increase in market prices for natural gas in recent months is due to factors other than just the upcoming heating season, he said.
 "Prices have been depressed for several years and were at record low levels earlier this year. An oversupply of available gas in recent years coupled with several years of warmer than normal weather unrealistically lowered the price of natural gas. But cool weather in late 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.
 "Those factors, combined with concerns about damage to some gas-producing wells in the Gulf of Mexico during Hurricane Andrew, have caused the market price for natural gas to increase at a more rapid rate than previously anticipated," Robinson said.
 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, he said.
 "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 is the largest investor-owned natural gas utility in the state, serving more than 360,000 customers in 26 counties and 449 communities.
 -0- 10/29/92
 /CONTACT: Karen L. Miller, 614-460-4607, or James E. Vitak, 614-460-4601, both in Columbus, Ohio, of Columbia Gas/ CO: Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania ST: Pennsylvania IN: OIL UTI SU:


CD-XX -- PG018 -- 6808 10/29/92 17:07 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 29, 1992
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