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National Fuel Projects Lower NatGas Rates For Consumers This Year

Even as low purchased gas costs in Pennsylvania are expected to continue benefiting consumers for the remainder of the winter, one utility believes its rates could be even lower next season.

National Fuel Gas Co., which serves more than 200,000 customers in the northwest part of the state, said in its annual purchased gas cost projection that supply charges from August 2015 to July 2016 should decrease by more than $2.9 million.

The company said that would reduce a typical consumer's bill by more than 2%, or from $72.97 to $71.41. The projection must be approved by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and rates are often adjusted on a quarterly basis to better reflect market prices for natural gas.

Purchased gas costs in Pennsylvania have declined by about 45% since 2008. Many utility customers across the state are expected to see lower natural gas utility bills this quarter as the state's distributors prepare new rate plans based on a fourth quarter in which prices fell on warmer-than-normal temperatures.

Dominion East Ohio also said last month that it believes natural gas production from the Marcellus and Utica shales in Ohio and Pennsylvania will help keep prices stable this winter heating season, especially compared to last, when colder weather drove up transmission costs and hit some utilities and customers in the region hard (see Daily GPI, Dec. 15 2014; Dec. 11, 2013).

Regulations require utilities to pass the cost of gas they purchase directly through to customers without any markup. The utilities’ charges for distribution of the gas are listed separately. National Fuel said its proposed decrease in gas supply charges beginning in 2015 reflects lower projected costs for the purchase and transmission of natural gas in the region.

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