Last updated: July 24. 2013 2:34PM - 188 Views

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Frank Lewis

PDT Staff Writer

Scioto County Columbia Gas customers could see a slight increase in their bills. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) Wednesday approved the results of Columbia Gas of Ohio’s auction for its standard choice offer (SCO). The auction secured natural gas supplies for Columbia’s customers for the period April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014 and established a retail price adjustment of $1.29 per thousand cubic feet (Mcf).

“It won’t change it much,” Jason Gilham of the PUCO said. “It’s slightly higher than what the auction came in last year. It will change it slightly.”

Columbia’s SCO rate changes monthly and is calculated as the sum of the retail price adjustment, plus the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) month-end settlement price. The price adjustment reflects the winning bidders’ estimate of their cost to deliver natural gas from the production area to Columbia’s service area which includes Scioto County.

The SCO will apply to Columbia’s non-choice customers and will continue to allow choice-eligible customers the option to enroll with an energy choice supplier of their choosing, join a government aggregation buying group or remain on the SCO.

“This is for all customers who are currently either a part of a shopping or part of an aggregation group. Like if their city is aggregated, they wouldn’t be included in that,” Gilham said. “These are people that are just on the Standard Choice Offer.”

Aggregation is the practice that allows marketers and local governments to pool the electric or natural gas consumption of multiple customers, or residents as in the case of local governments, in order to purchase the electricity or natural gas at a bulk rate.

Each SCO customer’s bill will indicate the certified retail natural gas supplier that is responsible for providing the customer’s natural gas. Columbia will continue to deliver natural gas to all customers, offer payment plans, and handle all emergency and customer service calls. Those enrolled in the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP), government aggregation group customers and those already enrolled with an energy choice supplier are not impacted.

On Feb. 26, 2013, World Energy Solutions, Columbia’s auction manager, conducted a descending clock auction for the SCO rate. Bids were submitted by 11 natural gas suppliers based on fixed adjustments to the NYMEX settlement price. The names of the winning bidders will remain confidential for 15 days to protect the suppliers’ positions in contract negotiations with pipeline companies.

What if people want to shop for best prices?

“The easiest way that I would tell people to do is, get a copy of your bill, and I would suggest getting multiple copies of your bill,” Gilham said. “But, on your bill, it’s usually located right below what your monthly total is. You’ll see it’s either in a box or highlighted. It will say - ‘price to compare,’ and that price to compare will show you what you’re paying per kilowatt for your electricity. So if you take that price, and you go to our website, PUCO.ohio.gov, we have on there what is called an ‘apples to apples’ chart, and it’s a listing of every offer divided by service territories. So you either put in your address or service territory, and then you can just compare the offer, if that’s lower on your bill, you have the ability to shop.”

Gilham cautioned what customers would be shopping for is, on the electric side, the generation or natural gas production part of the bill, which is only 50 to 60 percent of the actual bill.

“You’re not shopping for the total portion,” Gilham said. “There’s still the transmission cost and the distribution cost. You’re only shopping for the generation portion on the electric side.”

A copy of the Commission finding and order and redacted version of the report issued by the auction manager are available at www.PUCO.ohio.gov. Those wanting more information can click on the link to Docketing Information Systems and enter the case number 08-1344-GA-EXM.

Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at flewis@civitasmedia.com.

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