Columbia Gas: Looking forward to raising your rates

Shelley Brown
Shelley Brown

TOLEDO -- Four days after Columbia Gas filed its notice of intent with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to request a new rate plan, local leaders are speaking out against it.

The new rate plan would mean the average homeowner would pay Columbia Gas $5.64 more a month, which is roughly $68 a year.

While local leaders say Columbia Gas has been "a good community partner," those who oppose the rate say now is not the time to increase rates, reports News 11's Shelley Brown.

"They asked the citizens for $5 a year to support COSI. That was rejected overwhelmingly. This is 13 times greater than the COSI levy," said Lucas County Commissioners Tina Skeldon Wozniak and Pete Gerken.

In a news conference on Tuesday, Toledo City Councilman George Sarantou said they plan to call on all local and state leaders to join them in opposing the request to change the base rate its customers pay.

"Columbia Gas, you're making money. Love you for that. Don't take any more money out of our pockets this winter," said Gerken.

They fear the proposed rate hike would impact already struggling businesses and hurt working families.

"We need to work together to convince the Public Utilities Commission, which would be unusual by the way, but we need to convince them that they need to side with consumers for a change," Sarantou said.

"It's disappointing that this group would come out against a plan that they haven't even seen yet," said Columbia Gas spokesperson Chris Kozak, who adds it'll be another 30 days before the company presents its full proposal.

"We're unsure exactly what this proposal means. That's not been clearly identified or talked about," Skeldon Wozniak said.

The rate hike would include a new program that would teach homeowners to conserve. It would make it possible to replace an aging pipeline system and, as a result, create about 100 construction jobs across the state.

While local leaders say Columbia Gas is making record profits, the company says it's the first rate increase in 14 years -- 5 1/2 percent. The company believes the rate change is justified.

Posted by KO