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Increased Supply Expected to Help Ease Cost of Heating with Gas This Winter

New natural-gas deposits in neighboring states predicted to cut bills by as much as $15 a month

natural gas pipeline

It could cost less to heat your home this winter -- if you rely on natural gas.

In filings with the state Board of Public Utilities, Public Service Electric & Gas and Elizabethtown Gas said gas rates for the typical residential customer would drop by nearly 9 percent and 10.1 percent a month, respectively, beginning this fall.

The rate decreases continue a trend of sharply dropping gas bills in recent years, a development largely fueled by the exploitation of new natural gas deposits in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, which have driven down the price of the fossil fuel.

The other two gas utilities in New Jersey -- South Jersey Gas and New Jersey Natural Gas -- have yet to file their tariffs with the BPU, but it is likely, given the other utilities’ reductions, that customers can probably also expect drops in their heating bills. South Jersey is expected to file its rates today and New Jersey Natural Gas is expected to do so on Monday, according to spokespersons for the utilities.

In its annual filing with the BPU, PSE&G said it would reduce its basic gas supply rate this winter to 45 cents from 54 cents -- the lowest rate in 14 years. PSE&G is by far the largest gas utility in the state, providing fuel to 1.8 million customers.

With the reduction, a typical residential customer will save about $15 in a winter month, or about $100 for the year, according to the Newark-based utility.

“Since January 2009, our residential gas customers have benefited from multiple rate deceases,’’ said Jorge Cardenas, vice president of asset management and centralized services for PSE&G. “Once this decrease goes into effect, gas supply residents will have lowered bills by 44 percent in the last five years.’’

At Elizabethtown, which serves 276,000 customers, monthly bills for the average residential customers should drop from $118.44 to $106.48, a savings of $11.96 each month, according to Duane Bourne, a spokesman for the utility.

"It’s combination of the proliferation of low-cost shale gas in the markets and the proactive steps Elizabethtown Gas took to diversify its supply purchases,'' Bourne said.

The utilities make no profit on the gas they purchase for customers, earning money on delivering the fuel to consumers and businesses. The proposed tariffs submitted to the BPU must still be approved by the agency, which usually agrees to the rates without changes.

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