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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, October 11, 2018 1:00 am

NIPSCO customers to pay more this winter

LISA GREEN | The Journal Gazette

It will cost you more to keep warm this winter, based on projections NIPSCO confirmed Wednesday.

Assuming normal winter weather, the utility company said natural gas residential customers can expect overall bills during the five-month winter heating season to average about $7.50 more each month.

The higher bills will largely be the result of the newly approved natural gas rates that took effect Oct. 1, NIPSCO said in a news release. The commodity cost of natural gas is expected to remain flat to slightly less than last winter.

Projections take into account market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels, and are based on normal weather projections.

State regulators announced last month a settlement involving NIPSCO's rate request proposal. The initial rate proposal could have led to a monthly increase of about $10 a month.

The company serves about 820,000 natural gas customers.

To help ensure customers receive the best price, NIPSCO said it buys gas from various suppliers throughout the year. Gas storage is also used to help offset market price volatility. 

The winter heating season starts Nov. 1 and ends March 31. Natural gas residential customers using the system average of 622 therms could expect to pay about $423 in total compared with about $386 last winter.

January and February typically lead to the highest bills. In January, customers using 160 therms can expect a bill of $104, up from $93 a year earlier. In February, customers using 169 therms, can expect to pay $109, compared with $102 in February 2018.

But NIPSCO said the higher bills in the upcoming season won't hit customer's pocketbooks as hard as five years ago. During the 2013-14 heating season, customers spent a total of $536 for the same five winter months, the company said.

NIPSCO pointed out it has budget and payment assistance options – detailed on the company's website – to help customers who struggle to pay heating costs.