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Budget Payment Plan protects customers worried about this winter’s utility bills

Thursday, August 07, 2014

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Columbia Gas of Ohio is encouraging customers, especially those on a fixed income or worried about high bills, to prepare for winter by joining the Budget Payment Plan during August. Joining is simple: customers can pay the Budget Payment Plan amount on their August bill, or enroll online or by phone.

Many customers were hit with big bills – often several hundred dollars – during last winter’s exceptional cold. The Budget Payment Plan protects customers by spreading natural gas costs evenly over 12 months.

The Budget Payment Plan amount for a customer using an average amount of gas is set at $80 per month for the 2014-2015 heating season. That reflects continued higher prices for natural gas that began during the bitterly cold weather last winter.

Each customer’s budget billing amount is different, and it may be higher or lower than the average. The amount is based on the historical gas usage patterns for their home, the projected cost of natural gas on the wholesale market and current rates for service and delivery.

It is important for customers to act now to enroll in the Budget Payment Plan. Waiting beyond August will raise the payment amount, as there are fewer months in the budget year over which to spread the costs of winter heating.

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

To enroll in the Budget Payment Plan, customers can:

  • Pay the promoted amount shown on their August bill, plus any non-utility charges for security deposits, optional services, or fuel fund contributions, instead of the current amount due.
  • Enroll online at ColumbiaGasOhio.com -- click on “Manage Your Account” and log in to enroll any time. The Budget Payment Plan is just one of many online services that allow customers to manage “Your Account. Your Way,” including Direct e-Bill electronic billing and free online bill pay.

Call 1-800-344-4077 – select option 1 from the main menu and follow the appropriate prompts for information on the budget plan.

Save energy and money with Home Performance Solutions from Columbia Gas
While the Budget Payment Plan helps customers manage their energy costs, Columbia Gas has another program to help them reduce their energy costs. The Home Performance Solutions (HPS) program offers residential heating customers discounted home energy audits and generous rebates on energy efficiency improvements like air sealing and attic and wall insulation.

Customers who have used HPS have reduced their annual natural gas usage by as much as 30%, and they also benefit from a more comfortable home all year long. To schedule a home energy audit, call 1-877-644-6674 today. Information and scheduling are also available at ColumbiaGasOhio.com/HPS. 

About Columbia Gas of Ohio
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