By Frank Lewis
Unfortunately this time of year, people in southern Ohio who are on a fixed income begin to get concerned about paying their heating bills as the weather begins to turn colder in coming months.
Columbia Gas of Ohio is encouraging customers, especially those on a fixed income or worried about high bills, to join the Budget Payment Plan during August. Dave Rau Communications and Community Relations Manager for Columbia Gas of Ohio said Joining is simple. He said customers can pay the Budget Payment Plan amount on their August bill, enroll online or by phone.
The Budget Payment Plan is, according to company officials, designed to provide convenience and smarter budgeting for customers. It allows customers to spread the cost of heating bills evenly over the year and takes the guesswork out of each month’s bill. By enrolling in the Budget Payment Plan, a customer’s bill will remain the same each month.
The Budget Payment Plan amount for a customer using an average amount of gas is $62.88 per month for the 2015-16 heating season. That reflects lower natural gas prices that customers have enjoyed over the past year. Each customer’s budget billing amount is different, and it may be higher or lower than the average. The amount is based on the historical gas usage patterns for their home, the projected cost of natural gas on the wholesale market and current rates for service and delivery.
Rau said it is important for customers to act now to enroll in the Budget Payment Plan. Waiting beyond August will raise the payment amount because there would be fewer months in the budget year over which to spread the costs of winter heating.
Columbia reviews budget accounts in March to determine the impact of weather conditions and swings in the market price of natural gas. The company may adjust budget customers’ payment amounts, if necessary, to keep them on track with actual account balances.
To enroll in the Budget Payment Plan, customers can pay the promoted amount shown on their August bill, plus any non-utility charges for security deposits, optional services or fuel fund contributions, instead of the current amount due. They can also enroll online at ColumbiaGasOhio.com. Login or sign-up under “Manage Your Account” to enroll at any time. Finally, they can also call 1-800-344-4077 – Select option 1 from the main menu and follow the appropriate prompts for information on the budget plan.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.