Columbia Gas Makes Billing Changes

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Columbia Gas customers who did not select a natural gas supplier though the company’s choice program will have one selected from them, Consumer 10’s Kurt Ludlow reported Wednesday.

Columbia Gas spokesman Ken Stammen said that the company allows businesses and residential customers to choose their gas suppliers.

Under a new pricing system, those who did not choose one will be assigned one of five suppliers who won a recent natural gas auction. All the suppliers will charge the same rate, plus a service fee and sales tax, Ludlow reported.

Stammen said that the changes were part of Ohio’s effort to deregulate the natural gas industry and bring down prices, which he said were lower than they have been in 14 years.

Jim Marchese, owner of Rubino’s Pizza in Bexley, said that his shop relies on gas to produce its pizza. The restaurant has been in business since 1954.

“As you can tell by everything around you, we don’t change, nothing’s ever changed,” Marchese said. “Our product is based on using that gas oven. You can’t get the same taste, you can’t get the same texture with electricity. So, we’re totally gas-dependent.”

Marchese said that Rubino’s gas bill ranges between $300 and $500 per month.

“It’s been kind of an eye-opener to go back and look at some of this stuff over the years,’ Marchese said.

Stammen said that he understood that some customers were confused about the changes in billing.

“We acknowledge that this can be a little bit confusing to customers,” Stammen said. “We’re at $0.37 per CCF, so you’d have to go all the way back to the middle of 1998 to find prices this low, and that’s ultimately good news for customers.”

Marchese said that lower natural gas prices meant lower pizza prices.

“I’d love to lock it in at this rate for the next 10 years, you know, especially given the world situation, and you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Marchese said.

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