The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday rejected a request by Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. to pass on to natural gas customers $24.8 million in additional costs.
The company had asked for an automatic increase to be passed through to customers, including residential and commercial natural gas users supplied by Washington Gas Light Co. and Baltimore Gas and Electric.
The request was the second in a period of three months. In August, Columbia asked for, and was granted, an increase of $354 million. FERC is considering a request for a rehearing on that increase.
In denying the request yesterday, the FERC commissioners indicated that they may eventually approve at least part of it. But FERC officials indicated that the gas producer had pushed things too far, asking for too much, too soon. "It was hoggish," according to one official.
Normally, natural gas suppliers file at approximately six-month intervals for "purchased gas adjustment" increases to recover their higher costs. Columbia had asked for the $24.8 million just shortly after receiving the previous increase.
In addition, Columbia had asked for help in recovering costs for gas from three pipeline systems, including the cost of northern border gas, a high-priced Canadian gas. FERC commissioners indicated that if the company wanted to come back with a request limited to northern border gas, that might be granted. That would account for $5 million to $6 million of the overall request, according to a FERC spokeswoman.
The FERC commissioners have allowed other companies besides Columbia to file "out of synch" to cover the costs of the northern border gas.
The increase granted earlier this year means that Washington-area consumers will be paying 20 to 25 percent more during the winter.