Three Indiana utilities are predicting flat or slightly lower home heating bills this winter. Northern Indiana Public Service Co., Vectren Corp. (NYSE: VVC) and Citizens Energy Group say natural gas supplies and prices are behind the potential decrease.
October 7, 2014
Merrillville, Ind. — NIPSCO today announced its forecast for home heating bills this upcoming winter heating season. Compared to last winter, NIPSCO projections indicate that natural gas bills for residential customers will be approximately four percent lower.
Over the course of the five-month winter heating season – Nov. 1 to March 31 – NIPSCO's average residential customers using a total of 628.1 therms could expect to pay approximately $513.84. By comparison, customers used 747.5 therms totaling $535.83 during the same five months last year.
If temperatures are colder than normal, usage amounts and bills could be higher than projected. Last winter's actual usage amounts were higher than normal due to record-low temperatures during consecutive months. NIPSCO's projections take into account market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels, among other considerations.
“Last winter was one of the coldest on record and customers used more natural gas than normal, yet the abundance of domestic supplies continues to hold down market prices,” said NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley. “The outlook on natural gas costs remains stable for the foreseeable future, which is good news for customers as we head into the winter heating season.”
NIPSCO is one of the lowest natural gas bill providers in Indiana, according to bill comparisons released monthly by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
The cost of natural gas represents the largest portion of customer bills – on average, two-thirds of an overall bill. NIPSCO has no mark-up and makes no profit on the cost of natural gas billed to its customers. Before billing, natural gas commodity costs must be reviewed by the IURC.
While NIPSCO cannot control market conditions affecting the price of natural gas, the utility does negotiate the best possible price for the natural gas it purchases for its customers.
NIPSCO's purchasing strategy is a multi-faceted approach that consists of buying gas in the market from a variety of supply sources at different times throughout the year. The ability to utilize gas storage helps to offset market price volatility.
NIPSCO's gas distribution system consists of three on-system storage facilities and connects to seven interstate pipelines providing access to eight major North American supply basins.
Billing and Payment Options
Customers who are experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to call NIPSCO's 24-hour Customer Care Center as soon as possible to determine what options might be available to offer help. Some of those solutions include:
• Payment Assistance Programs: Based on income levels, customers may qualify to receive state and federal utility assistance dollars as well as support funds from separate NIPSCO programs by visiting their local community action agency.
• BudgetPlan: A free service to all NIPSCO customers to help manage their monthly energy bills by spreading out gas costs over an entire year.
• Payment Arrangements: Allows customers to make an initial payment within four days of the agreement, then spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.
For more information on billing options and payment assistance, visit NIPSCO.com/PaymentAssistance.
Energy and Money Saving Programs
Through NIPSCO's energy efficiency programs, customers can pinpoint ways to manage their energy usage, and in turn their bills. A full list of programs available to NIPSCO customers to help manage energy use can be found at NIPSCO.com/SaveEnergy.
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) has served the energy needs of Northern Indiana since 1912. Headquartered in Merrillville, NIPSCO is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc (NYSE: NI). With more than 821,000 natural gas customers and 468,000 electric customers, NIPSCO is the largest natural gas distribution company, and the second largest electric distribution company, in the state. NiSource distribution companies serve 3.8 million natural gas and electric customers primarily in seven states. More information about NIPSCO is available at NIPSCO.com.
Source: Northern Indiana Public Service Company
October 7, 2014
Indianapolis, Ind. — Citizens Energy Group announced today natural gas bills will be lower than last winter (November through March) if temperatures are normal. Last winter’s extremely cold weather resulted in an average residential gas bill of $680. This year, assuming normal weather and typical usage, the average residential gas bill will be about $607. If customers use as much gas as they did last winter, they may pay slightly more due to a small increase in the price of natural gas.
Natural gas prices are not set by local utilities, but rather by the market forces of supply and demand and prices have fallen significantly in the past five years because of increases in U.S. production. Natural gas costs are passed on to customers on a dollar for dollar basis.
“The abundant supply of natural gas in the U.S. is keeping the price of this clean-burning fuel stable,” said Carey Lykins, President and CEO of Citizens Energy Group. “Natural gas prices are about 25 percent lower than they were in 2008. Citizens does understand, though, some customers may still struggle to pay their bill. That is why we continue to work with community partners that offer financial assistance.”
Assistance is Available
Marion County residents in need of energy assistance should call Connect2Help at 211 or visit IndyEap.org to make an appointment for the Energy Assistance program or for a referral to a variety of other household assistance programs. Customers outside Marion County should call their local community action agency. Customers are also urged to contact Citizens, at 317-924-3311, if they fall behind on their bill.
Citizens recommends customers enroll in the budget plan to help manage their utility costs. To be eligible for the budget plan, customers are required to be current on their bill and have a good payment history. To inquire about eligibility or request a budget quote, customers can visit CitizensEnergyGroup.com or call 317-924-3311.
Ways to Save
• Replace your furnace filter – Changing your furnace filter once a month helps your furnace work more efficiently.
• Dial down your thermostat – A 10-degree reduction for an 8-hour period each day will reduce your heating bill 10 percent.
• Dial down the water heater – A 10-degree reduction in water temperature saves 5 percent on energy costs.
About Citizens Energy Group
Citizens Energy Group is a Public Trust providing safe and reliable utility services to more than 800,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in the Indianapolis area. The Public Trust means its utilities are managed only for the benefit of customers and the community. Additional information is available online at www.CitizensEnergyGroup.com – Facebook – Twitter – YouTube
Source: Citizens Energy Group
October 7, 2014
Indianapolis, Ind. – Today, Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana – North (Vectren) announced that customers could see slightly lower bills than last winter, assuming normal winter weather year-over-year. Vectren projects that its residential customers’ winter natural gas bill amounts will be about the same or slightly less than last winter (when assuming weather had been normal), for the five-month heating season of November through March.