For Immediate Release
Contact:  Matt Schilling
614 | 466 7750

PUCO approves Columbia Gas of Ohio’s commodity restructuring plan

COLUMBUS, OHIO (Jan. 9, 2013) – The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today adopted a stipulation that will allow Columbia Gas of Ohio to eliminate its standard choice offer (SCO) for nonresidential customers once specified thresholds and other conditions are met. The amended stipulation will run for a five-year term commencing on April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2018.

“The transition in Ohio into a more competitive and robust market provides the incentive for suppliers to provide consumers the best options available to them in terms of making a selection for their natural gas needs,” said PUCO Chairman Todd A. Snitchler. “It is important to distinguish that, in order for Columbia to implement the actions of today’s order, a majority of its customers, both residential and nonresidential, will have demonstrated their willingness to shop for their natural gas.”

Under the terms of the stipulation adopted today by the Commission, Columbia’s exit from the merchant function for nonresidential customers is contingent on a participation level in Columbia’s choice program to meet or exceed 70 percent of choice-eligible customers for three consecutive months.

By exiting the merchant function, Columbia’s choice-eligible nonresidential customers would be provided commodity service by a Competitive Retail Natural Gas Service (CRNGS) provider through the company’s choice program or monthly variable rate (MVR) program.

In addition to the stipulated level of choice participation being met, Columbia may not file an application to exit the merchant function for residential customers until at least 22 months after its potential exit for nonresidential customers.  

“Our approval of the switching threshold is by no means an automatic approval if we find a 70 percent level of choice participation by residential customers sufficient to warrant an exit of this type,” added Snitchler. “When appropriate, if an application is filed by Columbia, the Commission will ensure that all interested parties will be provided due process before making a decision. Nothing precludes us from reestablishing the SCO or other pricing mechanisms, if we determine that the Columbia’s exit from the merchant function is unjust or unreasonable.”

In order to further protect consumers, the Commission has also ordered Columbia to conduct educational outreach to nonresidential customers to ensure all choice-eligible customers are equipped with information to help them make an informed decision when selecting a supplier to serve their natural gas needs. 

A copy of today’s Commission order is available at www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Click on the link to the Docketing Information System and enter the case number 12-2637-GA-EXM.

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is the sole agency charged with regulating public utility service. The role of the PUCO is to assure all residential, business, and industrial consumers have access to adequate, safe, and reliable utility services at fair prices while facilitating an environment that provides competitive choices. Consumers with utility-related questions or concerns can call the PUCO Call Center at (800) 686-PUCO (7826) and speak with a representative.

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