COLUMBUS Columbia Gas of Ohio announced today that it is seeking authority from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to continue its energy efficiency programs for an additional five years.
The company proposes to offer expanded programs that could provide energy- and money-saving opportunities to up to 274,000 customers.
Columbia introduced its portfolio of energy efficiency programs in 2009. The company projects that those programs could save participating customers up to $75 million in gas costs.
The expanded programs outlined in Columbia's filing with the PUCO late Friday are expected to save customers up to $300 million in gas costs over the life of the energy conservation measures.
"Our energy-efficiency programs have produced real energy and bill savings for our customers over the last nearly three years," said Columbia Gas of Ohio President Jack Partridge. "Helping our customers lower their bills and cut their energy usage has become one of our key missions, and one we'd like to continue."
Columbia currently has authority to offer its WarmWiseSM energy efficiency programs through the end of 2011. In its application, Columbia proposes to expand its existing energy-efficiency programs and add new ones beginning in 2012.
The proposed expansion includes:
Home Energy Audits and Rebates. The Home Performance Solutions program for higher-use residential customers provides rebates on home energy audits and energy-efficiency home improvements such as air sealing, insulation and high-efficiency gas furnaces. Columbia proposes to increase the number of home energy audits to nearly 6,000 a year, up from 1,500 customers per year previously.
Weatherization for Income-Qualified Customers. Columbia's WarmChoice program is a no-cost home weatherization program for income-qualified residential customers with high gas usage. Columbia proposes to serve an additional 1,000 WarmChoice customers per year.
Energy Efficient Thermostat and Showerhead Rebates. The Simple Energy Solutions program provides residential customers rebates on programmable thermostats and high-efficiency showerheads. Columbia also proposes to begin offering rebates on faucet aerators.
Energy Efficient New Homes. Columbia proposes to continue and expand incentives for home builders to construct more homes that meet certain levels of energy efficiency, including Energy STAR standards, and that will use less energy than conventionally built homes.
Columbia's proposed new programs include:
"This plan would allow Columbia to reach more customers with these programs and drive more energy savings over the next several years," Partridge said. "As added benefits, our investment in energy efficiency programs creates jobs and results in less carbon dioxide emissions into Ohio's air."
Columbia Gas of Ohio developed both the existing energy-efficiency programs and the expansion plan with a diverse stakeholder group which included the Office of the Ohio Consumers' Counsel (OCC), the PUCO staff and representatives of low-income customer advocacy groups, community-based organizations, heating and cooling and building industry groups, business advocacy groups and government agencies.
For more information about Columbia's energy efficiency programs, please visit ColumbiaGasOhio.com/yes.
About Columbia Gas of Ohio
Columbia Gas of Ohio, with headquarters in Columbus, is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI). Serving approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio's 88 counties, it is the largest natural gas utility in the state. NiSource distribution companies serve approximately 3.8 million gas and electric customers primarily in seven states. More information about Columbia Gas of Ohio is available at: ColumbiaGasOhio.com. Be sure to call 811 at least two business days before you dig. For information on gas safety and what to do if you suspect a gas leak, go to safegasohio.org.