Columbia Gas says Ohio customers in its budget payment plan will see their bills increase by an average of 20-dollars a month.
The utility is blaming colder-than-normal temperatures this winter and an increase in natural gas prices. The hike comes as oil and gas producers continue to claim that fracking in Ohio has led to lower natural gas prices. A partnership between gas and electric utilities and community action agencies provides help for low-and middle-income people in paying heating bills. Activist Dave Rinebolt says the maximum one-time benefit from what are called "fuel funds" is between 250 and 500 dollars. Rinebolt says the money is designed to complement the state's Home Energy Assistance Program, known as HEAP.
Rinebolt says those interested should contact their electricity or natural gas provider.