The average natural gas utility bill will drop by 8.2% this month, compared with January in northern and central California, according to Pacific Gas and Electric Co. Residential customers should pay on average $8.40 less for natural gas in February compared to January ($102.34 vs. $93.94 for February).
Nevertheless, average bills will be higher this month than in February 2006, although cost of gas was 13.9% higher last year compared to this February (0.89 cents/therm vs. 0.766 cents/therm this month).
The principal drivers behind the February utility bill outlook include: (a) a decrease in customers average winter gas bills from January's big chill usage, (b) gas storage remains strong and production is improving, and temperatures for January and February tend to be colder across the country, leading to more consumption of natural gas and raising the wholesale price compared to other months.
The San Francisco-based utility said its customers will be eligible for 20% discounts on their winter gas bills under its "10/20 Program" allowing customers who cut their usage in January and February to get a 1% credit for each 1% of decreased use, and if they get up to a 10% usage reduction, they receive a 20% credit.
"Early analysis following the cold snap in January (11-17) -- [for which the state's governor declared emergencies in many rural counties] -- indicates that an adjustment for weather could be made when computing the final calculations at the end of this year's program," PG&E said. "This means that customers whose January 2007 bills show an increase in usage as compared to their target over the past three years may still earn a credit if their target is revised, or if they are able to conserve enough through their March meter read."
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