By Brenda Flanagan
Winter is coming and whether it’s a repeat of last year’s endless Snowmageddon — or a bit less brutal — it means cranking up the furnace and paying for heat. But this winter fuel prices won’t bite quite so hard, from home heating oil to natural gas.
While the weather holds, PSE&G is connecting customers with upgraded plastic pipes and replacing miles of old cast iron lines. Come October first, the natural gas flowing through these pipes will cost less.
“The cost of natural gas is gone down significantly, and we are able to pass those savings on to our customers. PSE&G is announcing that we will reducing our residential gas supply rates by 5.7 percent this year,” said Brooke Houston, a Spokeswoman from PSE&G.
In fact, all of New Jersey’s regulated natural gas utilities got approval from New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities to cut their rates saving customers from having to dig deeper into their pockets. PSE&G customers will save $51 a year; those with Elizabethtown $84; South Jersey Gas customers $121 a year; and New Jersey Natural Gas customers will save $141. Why?
“Our ability to manage our gas pipeline and storage agreements are such that we are able to help keep our customers bills down when the temperature drops,” said Houston.
That, plus, the Marcellus Shale formation, an underground reserve of natural gas tapped by fracking wells in Pennsylvania and other nearby states, provide an abundant supply via pipelines. Meanwhile, home heating fuel prices have dropped by more than a buck a gallon since last year to about $2.40.
“And hopefully prices will continue on the trajectory they are on – much the same as we’ve seen in the gasoline market with prices decreasing as a result of increased domestic production and worldwide demand not growing as quickly,” said Eric DeGesero, from Fuel Merchants Association of New Jersey.
Supply and demand. Forecasters say, this winter could be ‘volatile.’ Certainly last winter’s bone-cracking cold prompted Jersey’s huddled masses to turn up their thermostats. PSE&G noted the result.
“We did have four of our five highest gas delivery days, ever, last year, in the months of January and February,” said Houston.
The state’s natural gas utilities don’t make any profits on the actual gas. You pay what they pay. They do make money on deliveries which is why hooking up another customer makes dollars and cents.