Natural gas costs rising for Columbia customers

Columbia Gas of Kentucky customers will pay slightly more for natural gas in the next three months effective March 1 because the state Public Service Commission has approved the utility's quarterly gas cost adjustment proposal.

Customers who are supplied by Columbia Gas and have been for the past 12 months will pay $6.4139 per thousand cubic feet, or Mcf, up from $4.3688. People who are Columbia Gas customers but previously were in the Customer Choice program, which uses other suppliers, will pay $8.0846, up from $7.2006.

The difference is because gas costs are estimated, and actual costs from the same quarter a year ago are reflected in those estimates. In this case, the company overestimated its costs and charged more last year, leading to lower prices now for people who also were customers a year ago.

Utilities are not permitted to make a profit on the cost of natural gas, which accounts for about 60 percent of bills.