For 1.2 million homeowners in Ohio, heating bills this winter might be the lowest of the last decade.
Columbia Gas of Ohio announced this week its monthly budget plan for the next year for its average customer natural gas usage, and it’s $63 compared with $80 last year. Each customer’s budget plan varies, however, based on past usage by that customer.
The lower price tag on gas this coming season stems from increased access to the fuel in the market because of new pipelines and supplies, said Columbia Gas spokesman Chris Kozak.
“Increased supply is always going to drag down the price,” he said, explaining that the increased supply is coming from production in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio at drilling spots in Utica and Marcellus shale areas.
While natural gas prices for consumers were 52 cents per 100 cubic feet of gas in August, 2014, prices have dropped to 42 cents per 100 cubic feet.
“It’s a pretty significant drop,” Mr. Kozak said. In the 2008-2009 season, when natural gas prices were high, the average monthly budget was a record high of $133.
The utility encourages customers to join its budget plan because it spreads winter heating costs over the year, rather than having bills of perhaps $100 or $200 or more in a winter month and a bill of under $50 in summer months.
When the company customizes an individual’s budget bill, it considers not only future natural-gas prices and weather forecasts for the winter, but traditional gas consumption at that household. Columbia Gas also may adjust the budgeted amount in February based on natural gas prices and usage at that point.
Consumers who are not a part of the budget-billing plan will benefit from cheaper natural gas prices, and every household has some control over its bill based on usage.
“If we have another winter vortex, the potential for people to use more gas could drive that bill up, or them using less will drive that bill down,” Mr. Kozak said.
This article was written by Jillian Kravatz from The Blade and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.