Natural gas utilities set to bill customers for pipeline repairs
Western Pennsylvania's four major natural gas utilities plan to add surcharges to customers' bills soon under the state's new faster-track process to pay for pipeline repair work.
Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, the only local utility to seek regulators' approval so far, said its surcharge would amount to 62 cents a month for an average household customer using 73 therms of gas.
The proposed fee known as a distribution system improvement charge, or DSICs, could take effect March 3, if the Public Utility Commission approves it.
The company, with 415,000 customers in 26 counties, asked for a 1.9 percent surcharge, although the PUC could OK a lower rate, spokesman Russell Bedell said on Friday.
Peoples Natural Gas Co. and sister company Peoples TWP plan to file proposals for the surcharges in coming days, said Joe Gregorini, vice president of rates and regulatory affairs.
At Equitable Gas, “we're putting those numbers together, and we may be filing for a DSIC” in the next couple of weeks, spokesman Scott Waitlevertch said. Neither Peoples nor Equitable would disclose specifics of what their customers might pay in surcharges.
Columbia and other Pennsylvania utilities lobbied for the ability to recover costs to replace infrastructure — such as old cast iron or unprotected steel pipelines — more quickly, and without going through traditional rate cases that can cost more than $1 million in legal and other costs.
Gov. Tom Corbett signed state Act 11 into law in February. The new law's intent is to encourage more infrastructure work, by allowing utilities to charge customers for work that occurred in the prior three-month period. Water utilities already had the ability to impose those surcharges.
Columbia's surcharge, for instance, would recoup part of the $29 million the company is spending from January through March to install modern pipelines that improve flow and are less likely to leak, Bledel said. The company accelerated line replacement work in 2007 and plans to spend an average $131.5 million through 2017, up from around $78 million annually in recent years.
Equitable, with 257,000 customers, plans to spend $23.7 million in 2013 on pipeline work, up from $18.6 million.
Peoples Natural Gas, with 359,000 customers, is looking to double pipeline work to about $63 million a year, Gregorini said, while the smaller TWP company, the former T.W. Phillips Gas in Butler, also could double spending to $12 million.
Kim Leonard is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Muni bond funds stressed
- Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
- Small business hangs on fate of Export-Import Bank
- When it comes to home ownership, Hispanics finding locked doors
- Extended oil slump takes toll
- Ambridge’s PittMoss takes off with help from TV show, Mt. Lebanon native Cuban
- PPG puts brand 1st in strategy to reach commercial paint market
- Of Caitlyn Jenner and workplace restrooms
- Off-duty but on call: Suits seek overtime
- Kennametal expects to consolidate plants as it shrinks manufacturing in continuing streamlining; profit drops
- Bond funds hold onto cash