Given robust gas production from unconventional plays and abundant gas in storage, the American Gas Association (AGA) Monday predicted that consumers will enjoy lower gas bills this winter compared with last year.

“With natural gas storage at all time highs and prices well below past years, homeowners across the nation are in for some well-deserved relief from high energy costs when heating their homes this winter,” said AGA CEO David Parker.

As of Sept. 25 there was 3,589 Bcf in working gas inventory, which is 41 Bcf above the old all-time record level of 3,545 Bcf that was set during the week ending Nov. 2, 2007 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 2). The traditional refill season also has five reports left.

The Potential Gas Committee, a volunteer group of scientists and energy experts, reported in June that there is enough natural gas in the United States to supply the country for at least a century. New and advanced exploration of shale basins and other gas sources has led to an unprecedented amount of natural gas available on the marketplace, AGA noted.

“When utilities were purchasing gas to put into storage during the spring and summer months of 2009, wellhead prices were way down, so it makes sense that natural gas customers will reap the benefits of those unusually low prices this winter,” said Parker.

Piedmont Natural Gas said Monday its annual forecast of winter heating costs for customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee shows that residential customers could see a reduction in winter heating costs of 10-20% compared to last year. For the typical residential customer, the reductions could result in savings of $15-25/month during the winter, the company said.

Piedmont’s forecast is based on current price projections for the winter and assumes normal winter temperatures. Last year, winter temperatures across Piedmont’s service area ranged from slightly warmer than normal to as much as 7% colder than normal, the company said.

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