Three of the state’s largest natural gas providers say consumers can expect natural gas bills to be much lower this winter. Northern Indiana Public Service Co., Citizens Energy Group and Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC) say billing estimates will range from 20 percent to 30 percent lower if temperatures are within a normal range.

Natural gas prices are not set by local utility companies, but by supply and demand. The utilities say prices have fallen significantly in the past five years due to increases in U.S. production.

Last year, from November through March, the average residential gas bill from Citizens was about $584. This year, the utility projects the average bill will be about $475, or 19 percent less than last year. Vectren estimates bills to dip to an average of $445 over the five-month heating season, compared to around $550 last year. From November through the end of March, NIPSCO anticipates customers to pay about $345, a decrease from last year’s average of more than $495.

"We are very pleased the drop in natural gas has a positive impact on our customers," said Jeff Harrison, president and chief executive officer of Citizens Energy Group in a press release. "Natural gas continues to be a stable, clean-burning fuel source. Even with the decrease, we understand some customers may still struggle to pay their bill so we continue to offer financial assistance."

NIPSCO Executive Vice President Violet Sistovaris says the company still has the lowest rates in the state. "Affordability for customers is important, especially during the winter months when people are using more gas to heat their homes," she said.

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana – North President Mike Roeder calls it "good news for customers" and says "natural gas continues to be the most comfortable and cost-effective fuel source for home heating."

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