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Columbia Gas of Maryland customers might have to pay higher rates

October 02, 2008

Columbia Gas of Maryland's residential customers could pay 7 percent more for natural gas under a distribution rate change request the company filed Wednesday with the Maryland Public Service Commission, the company said in a news release.

The rate change, which would be the company's first in 10 years, reflects the increased cost of providing service, including the company's ongoing infrastructure upgrade, spokesperson Shannon Webber said.

"The men and women of Columbia Gas have serviced and maintained our existing infrastructure for decades, but portions of our system are nearing the end of their useful operating lives and need to be replaced," Columbia Gas of Maryland President Terrence J. Murphy said in the release. "And, the cost of delivering gas - like everything else - has increased since 1998 when we last adjusted our rates."

Columbia Gas of Maryland serves about 33,000 customers in three counties.

Utility rates are closely regulated by the PSC, and by law, Columbia Gas is required to pass the cost of natural gas to the customer without profit or markup, Webber said.

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If approved by the PSC, the new rates would go into effect in the second quarter of 2009, Webber said. Customers with questions on the filing may call the company at 1-888-460-4332.

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