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Published: Friday, 5/14/2004

Columbia Gas bills could jump $25

COLUMBUS - Columbia Gas residential customers could pay $25 more each year under a deal recently approved by state regulators, the state utility watchdog said.

The office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel said the deal will allow Columbia Gas to keep as profit money it raises by selling excess natural-gas and pipeline capacity, instead of passing it on to customers through lower rates.

But the company said the deal approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio won't take money from consumers and that the consumers' counsel's estimates "have no basis in fact."

The company said it has used the money to fund a program that lets its customers shop for different suppliers while still having Columbia deliver the gas and perform other services.

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