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Budget Bills to Drop for Most Columbia Gas of Ohio Customers

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Low natural gas prices and mild winter weather will result in a significant reduction in the bills of most Columbia Gas of Ohio Budget Payment Plan customers, the company said today.

Effective today, Columbia is reducing by 35 percent the average monthly budget payment amount for nearly three quarters of its budget customers, from the current average of $82.00 to about $53.00. The average $29.00 drop is the result of a significantly warmer than normal winter and natural gas prices that continue at their lowest levels in a decade.

“With all the volatility in today’s energy marketplace, it’s great to know that natural gas prices remain low and are expected to be stable for the foreseeable future,” said Columbia Gas of Ohio President Jack Partridge. “With many families still struggling to make ends meet in a weak economy, this is at least one glimmer of good news.”

Columbia reviews budget accounts each winter to determine the impact of weather conditions and swings in the market price of natural gas. The company adjusts budget customers’ payment amounts, if necessary, to keep them on track with actual account balances.

About 250,000 of the company’s 366,000 budget customers will see a reduction. About 3,000 customers will see a slight increase, likely the result of increases in usage. The remainder will see little or no change in their monthly payment amounts. Each customer’s budget billing amount is different, and may be higher or lower than the average.

The Budget Payment Plan spreads natural gas costs evenly over a 12-month period, lessening the impact of winter heating bills. The amount is based on historical gas usage patterns for the home, the projected cost of natural gas on the wholesale market, and current rates for service and delivery.

Columbia Gas of Ohio safely delivers clean and efficient natural gas to approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. With headquarters in Columbus, it is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and is the largest natural gas utility in the state. NiSource companies deliver energy to approximately 3.8 million customers located within the high-demand energy corridor stretching from the Gulf Coast through the Midwest to New England.

Be sure to call 811 at least two business days before you dig. For information about natural gas safety and what to do if you suspect a gas leak, go to SafeGasOhio.org.