Thursday, May 13, 2010

Winter was kind to natural gas heating customers

A warm winter and a cool economy combined to keep natural gas prices low during the past heating season. 
Our typical customer paid less for heating this winter than all but one other winter in the past decade. 
For the six-month heating season that ended April 30, heating costs for a typical customer were $625, down 26 percent or $220 from $845 in the winter of 2008-2009. The lowest heating season of the past decade was 2001–2002 when the average residential customer’s heating bill was $469.
Unusually mild weather in March and April was one factor. The other was price. Abundant natural gas supplies and reduced demand due to the weather and the economy helped keep natural gas prices low.
Most customers realized those savings in the month they occurred, but customers who use budget billing saw prices adjusted downward twice last year. Recently, an increase was made to budget billing based on forecasts of a return to normal weather this summer and next winter.
In a report this week, the Energy Information Administration issued a forecast saying that natural gas prices will be a bit higher over the coming months compared with a year ago. But prices are still forecast to be well below the elevated prices of natural gas seen in 2008, when gasoline, crude oil and natural gas prices all soared.

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