Columbia Gas of Ohio officials say they have no plans to terminate services at several residences in German Village, despite a claim by the local historic-preservation association.
The German Village Society has asked the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to temporary block any such service-termination moves while Columbia Gas completes a gas-line improvement in the neighborhood.
Columbia Gas officials said the society’s request isn’t necessary because the public utility has no plans to terminate services to anyone as a result of the project, which started in May.
The society June 23 filed a request with the PUCO, seeking relief for five property owners who have declined to allow Columbia Gas to move their meters from the interior of the properties to the outside.
“I think it’s extraordinary that the utility says we’re going to cut off your services because you’re not going to allow us to relocate your meter,” Chris Allwein, an attorney representing the German Village Society.
Four of the properties are on City Park Avenue, and one is on Hoster Street.
The request was accompanied by a previous motion for a temporary injunction to prevent Columbia from relocating meters outside until an independent review is done on the project, which affects 112 residential and business customers. That complaint still is pending. The commission has not yet ruled on the issue. The commission had not ruled on the issue by June 30.
Columbia Gas on June 27 formally responded to the PUCO.
“At the outset, it should be emphasized that Columbia has no plans to terminate or disconnect service to any customer on the project due to a meter-location dispute until the project is finished,” the response stated. “Columbia anticipates that the project will be completed in September 2017.”
Columbia had estimated the project to be completed by mid-August.
“As the project nears its end, Columbia will approach the society, the affected customers and staff to discuss options for proceeding with continued safe and reliable gas service once the project is finished. Until that time, there is no threat that customers will be disconnected,” the response stated.
Kelli Nowinsky, spokeswoman for Columbia Gas, said the matter boils down to the basics: When Columbia Gas flips the switch on the new system, those who refuse updated equipment could be affected.
“As with any project we work on across the state, toward the end of the project, we have to shut down the old system and put the new system into use,” she said. “If customers are not connected to the new system, they could lose their natural-gas service.
“Our hope is that we continue to be able to deliver natural gas in a safe reliable manner to all of our customers,” Nowinsky said.