Columbia Gas of Massachusetts asking for rate increase

Average customer's bill would increase by 7.5%, company says

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Columbia Gas customers could be paying more by this time next year. The utility company is seeking a rate increase, which would raise the average customer’s monthly bill by 7.5%.

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts filed a request for a 50-million dollar “base- rate” increase with the Department of Public Utilities. The Massachusetts Department of Public Utility won’t decide whether to grant the rate-hike until February 2016. If it’s approved, customers will see an average monthly increase of about 8-dollars and fifty cents starting next March.

If you’re a customer of Columbia Gas, you’ll notice that the base rate will increase on that bill. That all has to do with how the gas is delivered to your home. The company is not actually changing the price of the gas.

The money you pay will go to the company’s 1.6 billion dollar project to replace its ageing pipeline infrastructure over the next 20 years. Steel pipes dating back before World War 2 will be replaced with modern plastic pipeline.

Andrea Luppi, spokeswoman of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts told 22News, “We have to hire more people to get the job done, training of our employees to make sure that they’re safe, keeping the public safe. So all of that is included in our request to the Department of Public Utilities.”

The last time the company petitioned the DPU for a base rate increase was in 2013.

Tina Damario of Springfield says it’s worth the extra money. “All these old pipes and everything, and all of these streets are just caving in and just breaking,” says Damario. “Can’t catch every one of them.”

Columbia gas services 300,000 customers; most customers are in Hampden county and some are form parts of Hampshire county.

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