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Natural gas prices lower, but weather main factor in customers’ bills this winter [UPDATED]

Published 10:24am Monday, November 19, 2012 Updated 12:24pm Monday, November 19, 2012

The price of natural gas for Great Plains Natural Gas Co. customers is expected to be down significantly from last year, about 19 percent lower for the company’s north district customers and 7 percent lower for its south district customers.

“This is great news for our customers and reflects the extreme economic value of using natural gas,” said Dave Goodin, president and chief executive officer of Great Plains Natural Gas. “The lower cost of natural gas can be contributed to continued strong domestic production and near historic levels of gas in storage. It’s a good time to be a natural gas customer, especially when compared to other fuel sources.”

Great Plains signed a new pipeline delivery contract that goes into effect on Nov. 1, which will result in yearly savings of about $200 for a residential customer in the company’s north district, which includes Crookston, Fergus Falls, Pelican Rapids, Vergas and Breckenridge, as well as Wahpeton.

The company’s south district, which includes Dawson, Boyd, Clarkfield, Marshall, Montevideo, Granite Falls, Wood Lake, Sacred Heart, Echo, Belview, Renville, Danube and Redwood Falls, has historically experienced lower pipeline charges so this winter’s cost decrease isn’t as large.

While natural gas prices remain low, the weather will be a factor in how much customers will have to pay each month. Last winter’s mild conditions, reported as the warmest winter on record in many parts of the country, played a big role in customers’ bills. Not only were natural gas prices low, but consumption was low because of the warm weather.

Bills this winter season may be a little higher than last year, mainly because the winter forecast is not projected to be as warm as last year.

If usage this winter returns to normal, north district customers will pay about the same as last year and south district customers will pay about 9 percent more than last year, or $7 a month over the five-month heating season, which runs November through March.

The price outlook for this year’s heating season assumes no serious supply disruptions or extreme weather impacts on supply and demand. Prices also are subject to monthly changes based on the fluctuations in the wholesale market.

“As always, our priority is to provide our customers with safe and reliable service,” Goodin added.

Great Plains continues to encourage customers to use energy wisely and continue individual conservation efforts. Conservation tips and other useful information can be found on the company’s Web site: www.gpng.com.

For customers anticipating payment difficulties, call 1-877-267-4764 to make payment arrangements.

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