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Retail NatGas Charges Hit 18-Year Low in Michigan

Retail natural gas charges will be lowered starting April 1 for customers of Consumers Energy and DTE Energy in Michigan, the utilities said on Tuesday. The rates for DTE gas utility service will be down 16% overall.

Consumers Energy gas charges haven't been this low since March of 1998, said Tim Sparks, vice president for energy supply operations. "The price for natural gas that we'll put into effect in April continues a decade of falling costs," Sparks said.

April's gas commodity price of $2.54/Mcf was last matched 18 years ago and is down by nearly $1 from last year's price at this time ($3.47/Mcf).

Consumers said that this winter it is projected that its average residential customer will have paid about $250 less for natural gas than the previous winter. Similarly, at DTE customers on average saved about $200 on their gas utility bills this past winter.

At the outset of the winter heating season, DTE said its commodity price for gas was $4.07/Mcf; it dropped to $3.70/ Mcf on Jan. 1, and now will be $3.44/Mcf on April 1. The average DTE residential customer is expected to save $60 annually from the latest rate decrease.

"The price reduction adds to the $200 the average residential customer saved during the winter heating season because of reduced prices and warmer-than-normal temperatures in November/December," said President/COO Mark Stiers.

Consumers Energy said it has lowered gas costs with the help of its storage system, which includes 15 storage fields, allowing the CMS Energy utility to buy gas at low summer prices and store it for use in the winter heating season.

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