The average natural gas customer’s bill might rise 7% during the upcoming 2012-2013 heating season due to colder weather than last winter, said the American Gas Association (AGA) Thursday.

Still, the AGA, which represents natural gas utilities, said total winter heating bills should remain among the lowest in the past decade, even in the face of an anticipated cold winter season.

“The fact that we are looking at only a slight rise in consumer bills in the face of [potentially] higher use points to a new era in natural gas markets,” said Chris McGill, AGA vice president of policy analysis. “This is not your grandfather’s natural gas industry.”

On Wednesday the Natural Gas Supply Association told producers to expect a colder winter this year, which would point to increased natural gas demand and place “soft upward pressure” on prices compared to last winter (see Daily GPI, Oct. 4).

While last winter was the warmest on record between November through March, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasters are predicting a return to normal (colder) winter weather patterns this winter.

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