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NFG rates lowest in 19 years

NORTHWESTERN PENNSYLVANIA — Here’s news that will warm the hearts of area residents who heat their homes with natural gas: Effective today National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp.’s gas rates hit a 19-year low.

Under its quarterly adjustment to natural gas supply charges, NFG said the monthly bill of a typical residential customer using 94,900 cubic feet of gas annually will be $58.48, down $2.74, or 4.48 percent. The rate is the lowest the utility has seen since 1996.

“The main reason natural gas rates are so low is the influx of natural gas from the Marcellus Shale,” said Carly Manino, an NFG spokeswoman. “National Fuel now gets most of its gas from the Marcellus Shale.”

Under the new rates, NFG’s price-to-compare gas commodity charge also dropped to 0.28445 cents per hundred cubic feet. That charge, included on NFG’s bill, can be seen under the gas supply charges. The figure is important for customers shopping for an alternate gas supplier.

By law, a utility isn’t allowed to profit on the price it charges for natural gas. Pennsylvania utility companies are permitted to update gas supply charges quarterly to reflect changes in the market price of natural gas. The next adjustment is set for Feb. 1.

In related news, National Fuel Gas turns up the heat on rates.

NFG customers having trouble paying their bills are encouraged to call National Fuel’s Customer Service at 800-365-3234.

Payment services and programs available to customers include:

–Budget Plan — predictable monthly gas bills and stabilized heating payments for the year.

–Deferred Payment Agreement — customers can negotiate a payment plan in the event of a problem or special circumstance.

–LIRA (Low-Income Residential Assistance Program) — reduced-rate monthly bills and debt forgiveness.

–LIURP (Low Income Usage Reduction Program) — weatherization assistance for customers who meet income and consumption requirements.

–CARES (Customer Assistance Referral Evaluation Services) — payment arrangements and assistance referrals for customers facing hardships

–Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund — helps customers who are having difficulty paying bills and who meet one of these criteria: 55 years of age or older, disabled, having a certified medical condition, receiving unemployment benefits or meeting basic energy needs.

–LIHEAP, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, opens Monday. Eligibility for the federally funded program is based on income guidelines and household size. Funds are distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. For additional information, visit LIHEAPhelps.com or call 1-877-443-2743.

NFG serves more than 735,000 customers in northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York.

This article was written by MICHAEL ROKNICK from The Herald, Sharon, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.