Natural gas prices for next winter are anticipated to rise.
National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation announced Tuesday it has submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission its required annual Purchased Gas Cost projection for gas purchases to be made beginning Aug. 1, 2012, through July 31, 2013.
In the filing, the company projects an overall gas cost expense increase of $19,732,000 per year.
If the filing is approved, the statement said in August 2012 the monthly bill for a typical residential customer using 95,000 cubic feet of natural gas annually would increase from $84.87 to $95.51 per month or by 10.2 percent. The company's Monthly Metered Transportation customers, typically large commercial or industrial customers, will also see an increase from 23 cents to 31 cents per 1,000 cubic feet.
The company is advising customers the filing is only a forecast for prices to be experienced later this year and it must be reviewed and approved by the PUC before becoming effective. Upon review, the forecast will be adjusted to reflect actual and more current market prices as the year progresses.
National Fuel Senior Manager of Corporate Communications Nancy Taylor said the projections rely on forecasting tools available to the company including a knowledge of transmission charges. Over the next several months, she said, the PUC will audit the company's purchasing practices.
"National Fuel is required by law to shop for the most reasonably prices gas while still maintaining an adequate supply for our more than 200,000 customers during the most severe weather," Taylor said. "When market prices change, either up or down, we are required to pass those changes on to our customers."
In addition to increases in transmission company pipeline costs for the company, Taylor said changes in the futures market contributed to the projection. Prices for customers are still between 40 and 50 percent lower than a few years ago, she said, due to new shale gas coming on line.
For customers having trouble paying their gas bills, Taylor said they should call 1-800-365-3234. Service representatives can work to set up a payment plan, she said, or refer them to the appropriate agency for assistance.