October 16, 2008
CLEVELAND - Dominion East Ohio today received approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) for an annual revenue increase of $37.5 million, its first base rate increase in 14 years. Typical residential monthly bills would increase less than $3, or 2.5 percent, effective October 16, 2008.
The PUCO also approved a number of consumer benefits as part of the rate case, including automated meter reading, expanded energy conservation programs and the beginning of a program to replace older pipelines. In addition, the company would assume responsibility for repairs and installation of customer-owned service lines, which are the lines that run from the street curb to the customer's meter.
"The increased revenue and the new programs will help Dominion East Ohio continue to maintain a modern natural gas distribution system, with one of the best Choice programs in the country, accurate and timely metering, quality customer service, and safe, reliable delivery of natural gas," said Bruce C. Klink, president of Dominion East Ohio. "We are also proud to include expanded energy conservation and community assistance programs."
Many terms of the base rate case were the result of a settlement Dominion East Ohio reached with the PUCO Staff, Ohio Consumers’ Counsel; and other consumer advocates. The settlement came after extensive PUCO staff review, public hearings and testimony.
In its ruling today, the PUCO decided to increase Dominion East Ohio monthly service charge from the current $5.70 to $12.50 and reduce the base rate to less than $0.628 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) from the current $1.2355 per mcf. In 2009, the monthly service charge would increase to $15.40 while the base rate would fall to $0.358/mcf.
Other key elements in the settlement include:
- Recovery of costs associated with system-wide automated meter reading deployment. The installation of automated metering will benefit customers by providing actual meter readings each month, thus eliminating estimated bills, and improving budget billing calculations.
- Five-year authorization for the proposed Pipeline Infrastructure Replacement program cost recovery. The initial maximum charge to residential customers will be $1.12 per month, beginning in November 2009, with subsequent increases not to exceed $1.00 per year. Customers will benefit directly from this program, because Dominion East Ohio will assume the responsibility for repairs and installation of the service lines that run from the curb to the customer’s meter, effective immediately. Customers currently own those service lines and are responsible for all repair and replacement costs.
- A $6.0 million increase in annual spending for energy conservation programs for a total $9.5 million annually. Of that total, $6.5 million is targeted toward low-income customers.
- The settlement includes provisions aimed to assist low-income customers. Dominion East Ohio will make grants totaling $1.2 million to several organizations that help customers in the areas of payment assistance and education regarding the efficient use of natural gas. Two of those organizations are the Consumer Protection Association and the Empowerment Center of Greater Cleveland. In addition, the company will also increase funding to its EnergyShare Program, which provides last-resort assistance to customers who have exhausted all other forms of energy assistance.
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,000 megawatts of generation, 1.1 trillion cubic feet equivalent of proved natural gas reserves, 14,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,000 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates the nation’s largest natural gas storage facility with 975 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 12 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's Web site at http://www.dom.com.
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