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Government, Industry Forecast Lower Winter Gas Bills

The American Gas Association (AGA), the Energy Information Administration (EIA) and local utilities in a dozen states are predicting  lower natural gas bills this winter.

The EIA, in its October short term forecast,  said households heating primarily with natural gas will spend an average of $105 (12 percent) less this winter. About 52 percent of all households depend on natural gas as their primary heating fuel. The 12-percent decline in natural gas expenditures reflects an 11-percent decrease in prices and a 1-percent decrease in consumption. Additionally, natural gas in storage is expected to approach a record of more than 3.8 trillion cubic feet by the end of October, the EIA said.

The AGA, in an October 6 press release,  said natural gas customers can expect lower bills on average this winter compared to last year.  The drop is due to plentiful domestic natural gas supplies and lower wellhead prices.

EIA also projected average household expenditures for space-heating fuels to be $960 this winter (October 1 to March 31), a decrease of $84, or 8 percent, from last winter. This forecast principally reflects lower fuel prices, although expected slightly milder weather than last winter will also contribute to lower fuel use in many areas.

Nicor, an Illinois gas utility, said its customers paid about 33 cents per therm for gas in September compared to $1.45 per therm in July 2008. It said 2009 prices have been 40 percent lower than those in 2008.

Natural gas prices in Minnesota were at a seven-year low and utilities said customers could expect their bills to be 20 percent lower this winter, unless unusually cold weather occurs. Last year, the average Xcel residential gas bill was $142 per month for the heating season; this year it’s expected to be between $114 and $128 per month. 

For the typical residential Ohio customer using 7,000 cubic feet of gas, the October bill is projected at $75.62, down from $106.50 last October. In Kentucky, the same residential customer is expected to pay $73.13 in October down from $96.56 in October 2008.

Source: EIA, AGA, newspapers