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The Journal Gazette

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  • Courtesy: NIPSCO

Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:00 am

Winter heating bills likely to stay flat

Natural gas users will see little change, NIPSCO says

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

NIPSCO, which has a rate increase request pending before state regulators, had some news Wednesday that utility customers are likely to welcome: winter heating bills should remain relatively flat.

During the Nov. 1-to-March 31 season, a residential natural gas customer using the average of 622 therms can expect to pay about $390 total, just slightly more than $387 last winter.

A residential customer using 58 therms in November last year paid $42; the same usage this November is projected at $41, NIPSCO said. In February – typically one of the coldest months – a customer using 169 therms paid $102 this year. Next February, they would likely see a $103 bill.

Like other utility providers nationally, NIPSCO annually provides a forecast for home heating bills during the upcoming five-month winter season. Based on current market price projections for natural gas – and assuming normal winter weather – natural gas customers should have bills comparable to last year's, the company said.

The company said its projections also take into account market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels. If temperatures are colder or warmer than normal, usage amounts and bills could differ.

NIPSCO has 820,000 customers in 32 northern Indiana counties and said it continues to be one of the lowest-cost natural gas providers.

The cost of the natural gas and the cost of delivering it to customers are the two primary components for bills. NIPSCO said it passes the cost of the gas to customers with no markup, taking no profit from it. Before billing, the utility said, natural gas commodity costs must be reviewed and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Late last month, NIPSCO announced it was requesting an increase in its natural gas base rates, which would be phased in over two stages between 2018 and 2019. The increase would generate about $143.5 million a year.

Residential customers using 69 therms a month and paying $50 today would see their bill increase about $10.

The company said it has not had a base rate increase in more than 25 years. A decision by the state is expected in mid-2018, NIPSCO said Wednesday.

Indiana Michigan Power also has a rate increase proposal pending before state regulators. A public hearing was held Tuesday night in Fort Wayne.

lisagreen@jg.net