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Columbia Gas of Ohio Announces New Assistance Fund

Monday, January 06, 2014

As Ohio braces for record cold temperatures, Columbia Gas of Ohio announced today that over $2.5 million will be made available to income-eligible customers over the next five winter heating seasons to assist with paying their natural gas bills.

Beginning today, qualified Columbia customers may apply for Columbia Fuel Fund assistance through their local community action agency. Local agency contact information may be obtained by contacting Columbia’s Customer Contact Center at 1-800-344-4077.

The Columbia Fuel Fund offers a once per heating season assistance payment for customers with incomes up to 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines ($47,100 for a family of four). While a disconnection notice is not required for eligibility, customers must have already exhausted all other available assistance programs such as Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) and the Winter Crisis Fund in order to qualify as it is intended to serve as a fund of last resort.

"Columbia Gas is happy to offer this additional assistance to customers," said Columbia Gas of Ohio President Jack Partridge. "As we enter the coldest months of the winter heating season, we believe no one should be without heat, and help through these programs can go a long way for families struggling to make their payments."

Nearly 32 percent of Ohioans qualify for some form of assistance with their natural gas bill, yet fewer than half utilize available programs. Columbia Gas encourages customers who may be eligible to apply quickly, as funds are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Previously offered assistance funds of similar amounts have been exhausted in a matter of weeks.

Additional programs are available for households that qualify for payment assistance. Columbia Gas offers one-sixth, one-ninth, and winter heating payment plans, based on qualifying eligibility. Also, households with income at or below 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines may be eligible for the Percentage of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus).

Columbia Gas encourages customers to take steps today to secure assistance, if necessary. More information and eligibility requirements are available at ColumbiaGasOhio.com.

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. More information about Columbia Gas of Ohio is available at: ColumbiaGasOhio.com. 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: www.safegasohio.org.