The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) on Wednesday conditionally approved Columbia Gas of Ohio’s plan to give Toledo-area retail gas marketers exclusive access to Maumee citygate capacity. State regulators said the company can grant the Toledo marketers exclusive access to the capacity if the utility company absorbs any cost increases that would have been passed on to retail customers taking utility gas supply.

If Columbia accepts this condition, the company must submit a proposal for calculating its gas cost recovery (GCR) rates as if Maumee citygate capacity was still being allocated to all GCR customers. Gas transported through the Maumee gate station is currently used to serve GCR customers throughout the company’s service territory. The cost of gas delivered at Maumee, which tends to have a lower price, coming from the Chicago Hub area, is combined with all of Columbia’s other gas costs, and a single GCR rate is calculated and applied to all of the company’s customers, regardless of their location within the service territory.

The commission said it has attempted to balance the interests of GCR customers with the benefits of a successful natural gas choice program. The commission said the plan (case number 06-599-GA-ATA) strongly favors only choice customers in the Toledo market at the expense of GCR customers. For GCR customers, the Maumee capacity would have to be replaced by more expensive Columbia Gas Transmission capacity. However, regulators said they would be receptive to an application to allocate Maumee capacity to all choice suppliers on a nondiscriminatory basis rather than only the Toledo market.

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