- Office of Attorney General Maura Healey
Media Contact for AG Healey Secures More Than $11 Million Decrease in Proposed Rates for Columbia Gas Customers
Boston — Attorney General Maura Healey announced today that her office has negotiated an agreement with Bay State Gas Company d/b/a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts (Columbia Gas) that reduces the company’s proposed rate increase for its 321,000 gas customers by more than $11 million and prevents Columbia Gas from imposing any other base distribution rate increases before March 2021.
The settlement, filed with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) on Wednesday, resolves a proceeding before state regulators where Columbia Gas sought to increase its net distribution revenue by $24.7 million. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOE) and the Low-Income Weatherization and Fuel Assistance Program Network have also signed onto the agreement.
“It is my office’s job to help get the best possible result for Massachusetts’ residents and businesses,” said AG Healey. “Through this agreement, we are saving customers millions of dollars on their gas bills. Our office will continue to push for fair and affordable rates.”
Under the agreement, Columbia Gas will encourage its residential customers to use wireless heating thermostats or other comparable technology to reduce their gas usage and winter heating bills. To that end, the company will contribute $125,000 a year in both 2019 and 2020 toward incentivizing residential customers to use wireless heating controls.
The agreement also incorporates the flowback of the tax savings Columbia Gas received as a result of the reduction of the federal corporate tax rate. In December 2017, the Attorney General’s Office filed a petition with the DPU calling on the regulatory agency to ensure that the major tax savings for utilities go to ratepayers, and not to the utilities. The DPU agreed with the Attorney General’s position and opened an investigation seeking to lower gas, electricity, and water rates following the passage of the new federal tax bill. In order to return the savings from the federal corporate tax reduction to ratepayers, Columbia Gas will provide its customers with distribution rate credits to their bills totaling in the millions of dollars.
If the agreement is approved by the DPU, new distribution rates will go into effect on November 1. The agreement requires approval by the DPU. Columbia Gas serves 321,000 customers in over 65 cities and towns in and around Springfield, Lawrence and Brockton.
The Attorney General’s Office is the ratepayer advocate for the state and is authorized to intervene in or institute administrative and judicial proceedings on behalf of consumers in connection with any matter involving the rates, charges, prices or tariffs of any gas or electric company doing business in the Commonwealth.