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Natural gas budget payment plan option among lowest in past decade

Norwalk Reflector Staff • Aug 6, 2015 at 4:07 PM

Columbia Gas of Ohio is encouraging customers, especially those on a fixed income or worried about high bills, to join the Budget Payment Plan during August.

Joining is simple: customers can pay the Budget Payment Plan amount on their August bill, enroll online or by phone.

The Budget Payment Plan amount for a customer using an average amount of gas is set at $62.88 per month for the 2015-2016 heating season. This is a decrease from the 2014-15 projected budget of $80, and the lowest average projected amount in nearly a decade. The lower cost reflects lower natural gas prices. Past average budget amounts include: 2015-16: $66.88; 2014-15 $80; 2013-14: $87 and reaching the last decade’s lowest in th 2012-13 season at $66; 2011-12: $75; 2010-11: $81; 2009-10: $78; and seeing its highest during the 2008-09 season at $133.

The Budget Payment Plan provides convenience and smarter budgeting for customers. It allows customers to spread the cost of heating bills evenly over the year and takes the guesswork out of each month’s bill. By enrolling in the Budget Payment Plan, a customer’s bill will remain the same each month.

Each customer’s budget billing amount is different, and it may be higher or lower than the average. The amount is based on the historical gas usage patterns for their home, the projected cost of natural gas on the wholesale market and current rates for service and delivery.

It is important for customers to act now to enroll in the Budget Payment Plan. Waiting beyond August will raise the payment amount because there would be fewer months in the budget year over which to spread the costs of winter heating. Columbia reviews budget accounts in March to determine the impact of weather conditions and swings in the market price of natural gas. The company may adjust budget customers’ payment amounts, if necessary, to keep them on track with actual account balances.

To enroll in the Budget Payment Plan, customers can pay the promoted amount shown on their August bill, plus any non-utility charges for security deposits, optional services or fuel fund contributions, instead of the current amount due.

Then they should enroll online at ColumbiaGasOhio.com. Login or sign-up under “Manage Your Account” to enroll at any time. Call 1-800-344-4077, select option one from the main menu and follow the appropriate prompts for information on the budget plan.

More information about Columbia Gas of Ohio and NiSource is available at www.ColumbiaGasOhio.com and www.nisource.com. For information about natural gas safety and what to do if you suspect a gas leak, go to www.safegasohio.org.

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