(UNDATED) - Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana - South expects customers to receive higher energy bills in February, which reflect January's higher-than-normal energy consumption.
The utility reminded customers that January 2014 temperatures were about 10 percent colder than normal and about 20 percent colder than those experienced in January 2013.
"Given January has been both colder than normal and colder than last year, customers will likely experience increases when opening February bills," said Brad Ellsworth, president of Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana - South.
In January of last year, the average customer paid a total of around $90 for natural gas service, which reflected slightly lower gas prices and weather that was about 13 percent warmer than normal. In January 2014, that same customer will pay about $120. Bills vary by customer depending on the size and age of the home, number of gas appliances, number in the household, thermostat settings and levels of insulation.
While natural gas prices are slightly higher this year and the commodity is in high demand given the bitter cold, pricing remains favorable well into the future. The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) chart seen here, which details historic, current and future natural gas prices, demonstrates natural gas remains the most affordable home heating fuel and is well-positioned going forward.
"Although natural gas prices for January have ticked upward with high national demand, future pricing remains relatively low and stable due to our nation's abundant supply," added Ellsworth. "Furthermore, Vectren has a portfolio approach to buying gas, which includes long-term and short-term purchases, and utilizing gas storage fields to inject lower-priced gas in off-peak seasons. This ensures mid-season price spikes have minimal impact on our customers."
Natural gas is a commodity bought and sold in a national deregulated market and prices fluctuate daily due to supply and demand pressures. Vectren purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers and then passes those costs on to customers through the gas cost adjustment, which is listed on the Vectren bill as "Gas Cost Charge." Vectren utilities are not allowed to mark up nor profit from the purchase and sale of natural gas. Only gas costs actually incurred and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission are recovered from customers.
Customers utilizing electric space heating can expect to see a difference in bills as well. January 2013 bills were around $170, while those for this year will be around $190.
Vectren has in place a number of tools to help customers manage their energy bills, including energy assistance and tips, appliance rebates and payment options. Details for these programs can be found on Vectren.com or by calling 1-800-227-1376.
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