Columbia Gas customers upset about rate increase; communication

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Columbia Gas customers are seeing high monthly bills. Customers told 22News they are upset the gas company didn’t warn them before raising rates. Columbia Gas said those communications are going out Wednesday.

Columbia Gas customers can expect their average bill to increase by $52 a month.

Kimberly Roache said Columbia Gas didn’t allow them to budget for the increase and only found out when she got the bill.

“I know a lot of my friends didn’t know about the increase until I asked them and they looked at their bills. It would have been nice to have more of a notice but also more of an explanation as to why it’s going up so high,” said Kimberly Roche of Springfield.

The Roache family bought their home here in Springfield about a year ago. They say a little money goes a long way so now they’re trying to cut back on their gas bills by having more real fires and bringing their thermostat down a few degrees when they are not at home. They also insulated their heating pipes and are air drying their clothes to cut back on costs.

I asked Columbia Gas Spokesperson Andrea Luppi why they didn’t wait to increase rates until after customers were informed.

“Because we have to bill for gas as it’s consumed and the gas bills that are going out now is to pay for the gas that was used during that cold period of time, we can’t hold off,” explained Columbia Gas Spokesperson Andrea Luppi.

Luppi told 22News it’s an issue of supply and demand. Over the last week of December and the first week of January temperatures were 56% colder than last year. Customers used more gas and Columbia Gas had to pay more from their suppliers. Luppi said they only pass on the price they pay, not a markup.

You can call Columbia Gas to see if you qualify for fuel assistance. They’ll help you with ways to lower your bills. Luppi said the rates often get recalculated and may come down once the weather warms up.

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