Columbia Seeks to Extend VA Pilot
Columbia Gas of Virginia filed a motion with the Virginia State
Corporation Commission (SCC) last week to extend its pilot program
through Oct. 1, 2000. The two-year program is set to expire in
October of this year. The SCC said no date has been set for a
ruling on the filing.
Columbia Gas said it is seeking the extension because of the
program's popularity and because it anticipates statewide customer
choice to be initiated next year. In the two years since the
program started, 7,750 or 29% of eligible participants have
switched to one of nine suppliers. The program is available to a
total of 26,500 customers in northern Virginia. Washington Gas also
has an active pilot program in northern Virginia as well.
"The strength of the program's acceptance in northern Virginia
is the best endorsement for its expansion to Columbia Gas of
Virginia's customers statewide," said David Bowman, manager of the
LDC's customer choice program. "The suppliers are offering a
competitive menu of pricing options and other incentives, and
that's great news for [our] customers."
Last winter, Columbia played a major role in the passage of Sen.
Charles Colgan's (D-Manassas) gas deregulation bill. However, the
bill was altered in the legislative process and worded so that it
prevents any of Virginia's LDCs from requesting the SCC expand
their pilot programs statewide until the year 2000. "We are very
confident to have this extension passed. Once we do that, we can
continue offering choice.. We intend to go back to the General
Assembly in early 2000 and ask them to re-enact the deregulation
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