For most customers who use natural gas to heat their homes, costs will drop this winter.
The state Board of Public Utilities yesterday approved new rates for the state’s four gas utilities, with all but South Jersey Gas customers seeing drops in their gas bills. The rates take effect today.
The decline in customers’ bills continues a trend in recent years that has seen significant cuts in how much ratepayers pay for natural gas, a development largely attributed to newfound deposits of natural gas in neighboring Pennsylvania and other states that have driven the cost of the fuel.
In some cases, rate adjustments are tied to other arcane issues governing how much consumers pay – in some cases further decreasing rates and other times boosting rates.
Overall, however, most natural-gas utility customers will pay less to heat their homes this winter.
For Public Service Electric & Gas, the state’s largest gas utility with 1.8 million customers, the overall impact means an average annual decrease of $125.24 over the year for ratepayers.
At Elizabethtown Gas, which serves 276,000 customers, annual bills will drop just under $120 a year, according to Jerry May, director of the Division of Energy for the BPU.
For New Jersey Natural Gas, which serves nearly a half-million customers, rates will drop by $102.40 for the typical residential customer, according to May.
The lone exception to the drop in rates is South Jersey Gas, a utility serving 376,000 customers. Bills will rise by $126.40 a year for the typical residential customer.
May attributed that increase to the brutally cold winter, when the utility did not hedge enough gas supplies to meet the increased demand because of the weather.
Even with the increase in customers’ bills, they are still significantly less than four years ago, according to May.
At the same time, South Jersey Gas is also making significant improvements in its infrastructure, May said.