Natural gas bills expected to be lower in Clark County this winter

Natural gas prices are down from last year, according to nationwide data, and some suppliers that service Clark County expect lower costs for their customers this winter.

Eric Hardgrove, a spokesperson for Columbia Gas of Ohio, said natural gas prices are expected be at least five to 10% lower this winter compared to last year. He said those estimates are based on data provided by the New York Mercantile Exchange that also shows market prices for commodities such as natural gas.

In turn, Hardgrove said he expects heating costs to be slightly lower for homeowners this winter including those in Clark County. The drop in prices is largely attributed to greater supply in natural gas for companies like Columbia.

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Right now, customers in Clark County who are part of Columbia’s budget season are expected to pay around $65 for natural gas per month this winter season, according to the company. However Hardgrove was not able to provide the News-Sun with what the average heating costs last winter were for Columbia customers in Clark County.

The company provides gas to roughly 40,000 customers in Clark County, with the vast majority living within Springfield city limits.

Hardgrove said they have seen an increase in the natural gas supply over the past couple years leading to a decrease in prices at the market level. However, whether that will have an effect on the average customer’s heating bill also depends on regional weather patterns, he said.

“It just depends on the severity of this winter. We always hope for a calm winter season, but that is something that is out of our hands,” he said.

The News-Sun reported that year’s winter season is expected be milder than average and will likely bring more mixes of snow, rain, sleet and freezing rain compared to the last one.

Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio, which serves parts of Clark County, expects prices for their customers to be similar to those of last winter. Representatives of that company say that is in due to low market prices for natural gas.

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“In the event we experience normal winter weather – as we did last year – customers could see similar bill amounts this season thanks to continued low, stable natural gas prices,” said Richard Leger, with CenterPoint Energy, the parent company of Vectren. “Gas bills continue to remain very affordable compared to historic highs we’ve experienced in the past.”

The average Vectren customer paid $85 per month for natural gas service between November of last year and March, according to a news release from the company that serves 315,000 customers in the state.

“Keep in mind – Vectren is not a natural gas supplier. The customer’s natural gas supplier and corresponding price per unit of gas also influence bill amounts,” Leger said. “Some customers prefer a fixed price that won’t fluctuate over the winter while others prefer to stay on a variable rate, which changes according to the natural gas market. The price of natural gas represents around 50-55 percent of the bill during the winter months, so now is a good time to explore supplier pricing options.”

Facts & Figures

40,000: Number of Columbia Gas customers in Springfield

5-10: Projected percentage decrease in natural gas prices

65: Average dollar amount for Columbia Gas budget customers last winter

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering consumer issues and the impact on Clark County.

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