From staff reports
Columbia Gas of Pa. announced that natural gas residential customers could expect to see a decline in their winter heating bills this season compared to the previous year. Based on current market projections and assuming normal winter weather, the natural gas commodity portion of a customer’s bill–which is a significant component of natural gas bills–is estimated to be around 50 percent lower in contrast to this same period in 2022. If temperatures are colder or warmer than normal, usage amounts and bills could differ.
“With the costs of many everyday items continuing to rise, we know that every bit of savings can make a difference,” said Mark Kempic, Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania president and chief operating officer. “The decrease in the cost of the natural gas comes as good news as we head into the winter months, when customers are typically using more to heat their homes.”
There are two primary components of natural gas bills–the cost of the natural gas itself, and the cost of delivering the natural gas to customers. The delivery costs, also called base rates, cover the costs associated with providing 24/7 service and emergency response, as well as the necessary costs to maintain, upgrade, and operate Columbia Gas’s natural gas delivery system. This system includes approximately 7,650 miles of pipelines, regulator stations, meters, and other facilities.
Columbia Gas does not control the cost of natural gas itself, which is largely dependent upon market prices. The company passes this cost directly through to customers with no markup and does not profit on that portion of the bill. Natural gas commodity costs must be reviewed and approved by the Pa. Public Utility Commission.
There are several factors contributing to the anticipated decrease in the cost of natural gas itself this winter season.
Current market prices are lower than last year due to increased production levels, lower exports due to softening European demand, and filling storage at substantially lower prices than previous years.
“Even with the estimated decrease in market prices for natural gas, we know there are times when it may be difficult for some customers to pay their utility bills,” added Kempic. “We urge any customer, regardless of their situation, to contact us to explore the wide array of programs and options that can be utilized to keep customers connected.”
Programs available to help customers include:
– Payment Plans: Flexible payment plans are available to help spread the balance due on natural gas bills across multiple months. We’ve made it easy to enroll by visiting ColumbiaGasPA.com/PaymentPl-ans or calling 1-888-460-4332.
– Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Columbia Gas serves as a link to federal energy assistance funds which provide help with residential heating costs. These energy grants do not have to be repaid by the customer. Enrollment guidelines, which are revised each new heating season, are based on household size and income.
– Crisis-Emergency Energy Assistance: A component of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Crisis Emergency Energy Assistance provides funds for customers in emergency situations and who are in danger of losing their heat.
– Columbia Gas Hardship Fund: Administered by Dollar Energy Fund, this program provides grants up to $500 per year to low-income residential customers to pay off past-due bills or restore service. This program is available if customers have exhausted all other available assistance programs.
For more information on billing options and payment assistance, visit www.ColumbiaGasPA.com/Assistance or call (800) 272-2714 to speak with a Columbia Gas representative.
As always, Columbia Gas encourages customers to be as efficient as they can when it comes to their energy consumption. For tips and information about available programs, visit ColumbiaGasPA.com/Energy-Efficiency.