Gas Program May Expand

Columbia Gas of Virginia is applying for an extension of the Customer Choice pilot program for Northern Virginia customers in anticipation of becoming a permanent statewide option for Columbia customers starting next year.

Customer Choice, a two-year pilot program, allows customers to comparison shop for their natural gas supplier. Sign-ups surpassed the 7,000 mark in May, the company said.

Columbia recently filed a proposal with the Virginia State Corporation Commission to extend the pilot project through Oct. 1, 2000.

There is no fee, and customers may sign up by calling an authorized Customer Choice supplier. A list of suppliers is available by calling 1-800-543-8911.

Time to Dine, Dance

The Prince William County-Greater Manassas Chamber of Commerce is holding its 64th anniversary dinner-dance, "Countdown to the New Millennium . . . A New Year's Eve Bash" on June 12. Chamber members, past presidents and guests are invited.

The evening will begin at 6:15 at the Dulles Hyatt. The event costs $60 a person. For more information on sponsorships or attending, call 368-6600.

Dialing for Practice

GTE Corp. is asking its Northern Virginia customers in the 703 area code to dial 10 numbers on all local calls -- area code plus seven-digit local number -- in preparation for the 571 area code next year, which will serve new Northern Virginia customers.

Customers still will be able to complete local calls by dialing seven digits until March 1. But after then, if customers forget to dial the area code, a recording will remind them to dial area code plus seven digits.

GTE wants customers to start dialing all digits now so they can get used to the new pattern.

Please fax submissions for Wednesday's business notes column at least a week in advance to Amy Joyce at 670-7197; e-mail them to joycea@washpost.com; or mail them to 13662 Office Pl., Suite 102, Woodbridge, Va. 22192. Publication of submissions is subject to space limitations.