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Plan creates jobs and supports economic development
CANONSBURG, Pa., May 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Columbia Gas of Maryland, Inc., a subsidiary of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI), filed a request today with the Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) to approve revised rates for further upgrading and replacing portions of the company's underground natural gas distribution pipelines. If approved, these proposed rate adjustments would not go into effect until the end of 2021.
"Ensuring the continued, long-term safety of the customers and communities we serve is essential, and it requires the necessary level of investment to modernize our energy infrastructure for generations to come," said Mark Kempic, Columbia Gas President and Chief Operating Officer. "This proposal seeks to balance cost and service in order to continue delivering on our commitments to customers."
With over 165 full-time employees and contracted resources, Columbia Gas has proudly invested more than $192 million in Maryland since 2009 as part of its long-term plan to modernize and expand its natural gas distribution system.
In addition to the positive economic benefits associated with these previous and proposed future investments across the Western Maryland area served by Columbia Gas, this plan also supports a positive customer experience through ensuring an educated and trained workforce that is focused on safely meeting or exceeding all federal and state industry requirements.
Helping Customers in Need
At all times, Columbia Gas is committed to providing its customers with the tools, resources, and programs to stay safe and warm in their homes. "Even with these necessary investments, any change in customer bills is meaningful," added Kempic. "Assistance is available, and it is our goal to work with customers to identify solutions to keep them connected."
With the communities we serve in mind, and in response to COVID-19, Columbia Gas is offering an expanded number of flexible payment plans to residential and commercial customers to help spread the balance due on their natural gas bills across multiple months. Information can be found at www.columbiagasmd.com/paymentplans.
Any Columbia Gas customer who may have fallen behind on their energy bills is encouraged to reach out to the company at 1-888-460-4332 or by visiting www.columbiagasmd.com/assistanceprograms.
Review Process by PSC
While the company filed its request with the PSC today, it is important to note that after filing for a rate adjustment, the review process by the Commission will take approximately seven months. As a result, in this case, any approved and adjusted rates by the PSC would not go into effect until December 2021.
Approval of the proposal would result in the average total bill for a residential customer who purchases 70 therms of gas per month from Columbia Gas to increase from $97.65 to $108.73, or by 11.35 percent. The total bill for a small commercial customer purchasing 250 therms of gas from Columbia Gas per month would increase from $322.33 to $349.94, or by 8.57 percent. The total monthly bill for an industrial customer purchasing 4,590 therms of gas from Columbia Gas would increase from $3,921.47 to $4,165.67, or by 6.23 percent.
If the request is approved as filed, the total average residential customer bill would still be around 24 percent lower than it was 20 years ago, when adjusted for inflation.
The total overall request represents an annual revenue increase of $6.3 million.
How Customers Can Participate in the Rate Review Process
It is important to note that the public has a voice in the review process, and anyone interested in the case can reach out to the PSC. Columbia Gas encourages active involvement by customers and other parties by participating through written comments and attendance at public hearings. Residential customers are represented throughout the process by the Maryland Office of People's Counsel.
Customers with questions regarding the proposed rates may call Columbia Gas at 1-888-460-4332 or visit www.columbiagasmd.com for more information.
About Columbia Gas of Maryland
Columbia Gas of Maryland delivers clean, affordable, and efficient natural gas to approximately 33,000 customers in Garrett, Allegany and Washington counties. It is one of NiSource's six regulated utility companies. NiSource (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.2 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. More information about Columbia Gas of Maryland and NiSource is available at www.ColumbiaGasMD.com and www.nisource.com.
NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) is one of the largest fully-regulated utility companies in the United States, serving approximately 3.2 million natural gas customers and 500,000 electric customers across six states through its local Columbia Gas and NIPSCO brands. Based in Merrillville, Indiana, NiSource's approximately 7,500 employees are focused on safely delivering reliable and affordable energy to our customers and communities we serve. NiSource is a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability - North America Index and the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index and has been named by Forbes magazine among America's Best Large Employers since 2016. Additional information about NiSource, its investments in modern infrastructure and systems, its commitments and its local brands can be found at www.nisource.com. Follow us at www.facebook.com/nisource, www.linkedin.com/company/nisource or www.twitter.com/nisourceinc. NI-F
This press release contains "forward-looking statements," within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the "Securities Act"), and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"). Investors and prospective investors should understand that many factors govern whether any forward-looking statement contained herein will be or can be realized. Any one of those factors could cause actual results to differ materially from those projected. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to, statements concerning our plans, strategies, objectives, expected performance, expenditures, recovery of expenditures through rates, stated on either a consolidated or segment basis, and any and all underlying assumptions and other statements that are other than statements of historical fact. All forward-looking statements are based on assumptions that management believes to be reasonable; however, there can be no assurance that actual results will not differ materially.
Factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from the projections, forecasts, estimates and expectations discussed in this press release include, among other things, our ability to execute our business plan or growth strategy, including utility infrastructure investments; potential incidents and other operating risks associated with our business; our ability to adapt to, and manage costs related to, advances in technology; impacts related to our aging infrastructure; our ability to obtain sufficient insurance coverage and whether such coverage will protect us against significant losses; the success of our electric generation strategy; construction risks and natural gas costs and supply risks; fluctuations in demand from residential and commercial customers; fluctuations in the price of energy commodities and related transportation costs or an inability to obtain an adequate, reliable and cost-effective fuel supply to meet customer demands; the attraction and retention of a qualified workforce and ability to maintain good labor relations; our ability to manage new initiatives and organizational changes; the performance of third-party suppliers and service providers; potential cyber-attacks; any damage to our reputation; any remaining liabilities or impact related to the sale of Massachusetts Business; the impacts of natural disasters, potential terrorist attacks or other catastrophic events; the impacts of climate change and extreme weather conditions; our debt obligations; any changes to our credit rating or the credit rating of certain of our subsidiaries; adverse economic and capital market conditions or increases in interest rates; economic regulation and the impact of regulatory rate reviews; our ability to obtain expected financial or regulatory outcomes; continuing and potential future impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic; economic conditions in certain industries; the reliability of customers and suppliers to fulfill their payment and contractual obligations; the ability of our subsidiaries to generate cash; pension funding obligations; potential impairments of goodwill; changes in the method for determining LIBOR and the potential replacement of the LIBOR benchmark interest rate; the outcome of legal and regulatory proceedings, investigations, incidents, claims and litigation; potential remaining liabilities related to the Greater Lawrence Incident; compliance with the agreements entered into with the U.S. Attorney's Office to settle the U.S. Attorney's Office's investigation relating to the Greater Lawrence Incident; compliance with applicable laws, regulations and tariffs; compliance with environmental laws and the costs of associated liabilities; changes in taxation; and other matters set forth in Item 1, "Business," Item 1A, "Risk Factors" and Part II. Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," of the company's annual report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, some of which risks are beyond our control. In addition, the relative contributions to profitability by each business segment, and the assumptions underlying the forward-looking statements relating thereto, may change over time. All forward-looking statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by the foregoing cautionary statements. We undertake no obligation to, and expressly disclaim any such obligation to, update or revise any forward-looking statements to reflect changed assumptions, the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or changes to the future results over time or otherwise, except as required by law.
SOURCE Columbia Gas of Maryland, Inc.