10/09/13 NIPSCO Tuesday announced its forecast for heating bills this winter. Assuming normal winter temperatures, projections indicate that bills will be approximately one percent higher than last winter’s bills, and they are expected to remain as some of the lowest bills in the last decade.
Over the course of the five-month winter heating season – Nov. 1 to March 31 – NIPSCO’s average residential customers using a total of 624 therms could expect to pay approximately $437. This compares to $433 for a customer using the same amount of gas during last winter.
NIPSCO’s projections take into market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels, among other considerations.
NIPSCO has among the lowest residential gas bills in Indiana, according to bill comparisons released monthly by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
NIPSCO Residential Winter Bill Projection (2013/2014 vs. 2012/2013)
November December January February March Total
2013/2014 $46.46 $81.51 $114.67 $107.26 $87.33 $437.23
2012/2013 $47.67 $82.01 $110.02 $104.74 $88.50 $432.94
Usage 60 114 166 155 129 624
therms therms therms therms therms
*Note: Actual bills vary by customer depending on the home’s age and size, number in the household, number and age of gas appliances, thermostat settings and insulation levels.
“Natural gas continues to be one of the lowest-cost, most reliable and abundant energy sources for customers,” said NIPSCO CEO Jim Stanley. “The outlook on natural gas prices and domestic supplies remain stable for the foreseeable future, which is great news as we head toward the winter heating season.”
While winter bill amounts are projected to be relatively flat compared to last winter, the company expects usage amounts to be slightly higher. Last winter’s actual usage amounts were lower than normal due to warmer temperatures during some months.
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 froma variety of supply sources at different times throughout the year. The ability to utilize gas storage helpsto 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 CustomerCare 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 byvisiting their local community action agency.
Budget Plan: 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 asthey 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.