For immediate release: Feb 22, 2008
Posted by: [OUCC]
Contact: Anthony Swinger
Phone: (317) 233-2747

Community Natural Gas Co. rate case: State utility consumer advocate accepting public comments

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is inviting public comments as it reviews the request of Community Natural Gas Co., Inc. for an increase in its base rates and charges.

The OUCC - the state agency representing consumer interests in cases before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) - has not yet taken a position on the utility's request but is currently scheduled to complete its review and file testimony on Tuesday, April 1. Consumers who wish to provide written comments on the case in the meantime may submit them to the OUCC's consumer services staff via mail, e-mail or fax.

Community Natural Gas Company - a privately-owned utility serving more than 6,700 residential and commercial customers in ten southern Indiana counties (Dubois, Gibson, Greene, Monroe, Owen, Pike, Posey, Spencer, Sullivan, and Warrick) - is requesting a 6.4 percent increase in its general operating revenues. According to its filing in this case, the utility is seeking the rate changes due to increases in operating and maintenance costs (including personnel expenses and uncollected customer debt) and to cover the costs of distribution system investments.

The proposed increase in this case would only apply to the utility's base distribution rate, which comprises approximately 25 to 30 percent of a typical residential natural gas customer's monthly heating bill. Base distribution rates cover "non-gas" costs such as operating and maintenance expenses, and capital and infrastructure improvements. Community Natural Gas Company's current base rates were approved in November 2003.

Wholesale natural gas supply costs, which make up between 70 and 75 percent of a typical customer's bill, are recovered on a dollar-for-dollar basis through the state's Gas Cost Adjustment (GCA) process. Community Natural Gas Company's GCA process, which includes an OUCC audit and requires IURC approval every three months, will not be affected by this case.

According to its filings in this case, the utility's proposal would increase the total residential bill for a customer using 5 dekatherms per month from $70.25 to $76.40, and the total residential bill for 10 dekatherms in a month from $131.49 to $140.79. Community Natural Gas Company bases its rate comparison estimates on natural gas costs over a 12-month period ending in September 2007; actual billing amounts will vary depending on wholesale natural gas commodity costs.

The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments in this case no later than Wednesday, March 26. Comments should include the consumer's name, address, and a reference to "IURC Cause No. 43377," and can be submitted by mail, fax or the Internet:

Additional information on this case, including the utility's testimony, is available on the OUCC Website. Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC's consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.

A guide to understanding natural gas prices and tips for managing energy bills are among the free publications the OUCC offers. All OUCC publications are available on the agency's Website or by calling the agency toll-free.

 

(IURC Cause No. 43377)

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is the state agency that represents residential and business consumer interests in cases before state and federal utility regulatory commissions. To learn more, visit www.IN.gov/OUCC.

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