Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. said yesterday that it recently received a refund check totaling more than $2.1 million from the Columbia Gas Transmission Corp. for past overcharges -- money that will be passed along to its natural gas customers with interest.
BGE spokeswoman Peggy Mulloy said the refunds from the payment will be relatively small -- about 12 1/2 cents a month for the typical residential customer.
However, when the latest repayment is added to a $16 million refund BGE received from Columbia earlier this year, that customer's savings will total about $14, the utility said.
The payouts from the earlier check started in June and are being spread over 12 months in the form of credits.
The most recent refunds will be paid out on the same schedule.
BGE said more refunds are possible as the company continues settlement negotiations in another phase of its eight-year legal battle against Columbia.
Columbia, an interstate gas pipeline company, filed for federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 1991.
The utility's dispute with the pipeline company revolved around what was known in the industry as "take-or-pay" costs.
Essentially, these were extra costs incurred by pipeline companies that signed contracts with natural gas producers in which the pipeline agreed to take or pay for gas whether it was needed or not.
In 1986, BGE challenged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's formula for computing how much of those costs could be passed along to consumers, said Bob Fleishman, BGE's associate general counsel.
The battle, complicated by Columbia's bankruptcy filing, went back and forth in the courts until last February, when BGE scored a victory in federal appellate court.
LTC The separate case that remains, also involving "take-or-pay" costs, could result in a refund of up to $10 million or 12 million, Mr. Fleishman said.