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Columbia Seeks to Extend VA Pilot

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 legislation."

John Norris

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