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Local Gas Customers to See Reduction in Bills

BOSTON (WGGB) – A state cut to a proposed multi-million dollar rate increase by Columbia Gas will actually lead to a reduction in customer’s bills.

Columbia Gas had asked the state for a $29 million distribution rate increase for more than 295,000 customers in the Springfield, Lawrence, and Brockton areas.

Late Thursday afternoon, the state’s Department of Public Utilities issued an order reducing that $29 million figure down to a $7.8 million increase – a reduction of over $21 million.

This lower distribution rate increase is combined with a decrease in cost of gas that was approved by the state Thursday.

The result is that the average heating customer, using 150 therms per month, should see about a ten percent savings, or $19 per month.

The average non-heating customer, using 15 therms a month, can expect to see decrease of a little less than one percent a month, or about 18 cents.

Department of Public Utilities chairwoman Ann Berwick says her department’s actions will save “customers money every month on their gas bills. At a time when the economy is still in recovery mode, the DPU is conscious of what every dollar means to customers.”

The state made the denial of the larger request after the Department of Public Utilities determined that Columbia’s proposal including estimated costs for future capital projects in its rate base, which was inconsistent with precedent.

The DPU is did allow and encouraged Columbia Gas to add small cast iron and wrought iron pipes to an accelerated pipeline replacement program in an effort to reduce gas leaks and to enhance the safety and integrity of the system.

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