Public Service Electric & Gas residential customers will receive an average 31 percent cut in their gas bills this month and in March, the utility announced yesterday.
The Newark utility said it will extend credits it initiated this past November to customers because of the steep drop in natural gas prices, largely the result of the availability of low-cost shale gas from neighboring states.
For typical residential customers, it could mean a savings of $210 since last November. PSE&G said its costs for natural gas — on which it does not make any profit — are at the lowest rate in 14 years.
“The continued availability of low-cost shale gas has made heating our homes this winter especially affordable,’’ said Jorge Cardenas, PSE&G vice president of asset management and centralized services. “In addition, our transportation and storage capabilities and the way we manage our pipeline contracts have enable us once again to reduce costs to customers.’’
The trend has been reflected by two of the other utilities providing natural gas to customers to heat their homes — New Jersey Natural Gas and Elizabethtown Gas, both of which lowered rates to customers last fall in new tariffs approved by the state Board of Public Utilities.
The decline in customers’ bills continues a trend in recent years that results from newfound deposits of the fossil fuel in the Marcellus Shale formations in Pennsylvania and other states.
For PSE&G customers, reductions in the cost of gas have lowered bills by 44 percent since January 2009. That translates into annual savings of $741. In addition, customers of the utility have received credits on the supply portion of the bill for approximately $400.
The state’s largest utility cited the big drop in natural gas prices as an argument for embarking on a $1.2 billion program to upgrade its infrastructure to improve reliability during extreme storms. Customers paying lower bills will help offset the cost to ratepayers of the upgrades to its gas and electric systems, the utility argued.