The decline in the price of natural gas has prompted NSTAR Gas to submit to the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities a winter rate of $0.9799/therm, an 18% decrease from last year’s rate of $1.1949/therm, the company said Monday.

If the new price is approved it will go into effect on November 1. The average NSTAR Gas heating customer, using 144 therms of gas per month between November and April, can expect a drop of $27 per month, NSTAR said. Non heating customers using natural gas for cooking and hot water will see a drop a $3 per month drop, to $36 from $39 last year.

“The continued decline of natural gas prices on the wholesale market couldn’t come at a better time,” said NSTAR CEO Thomas J. May. “As the temperatures start to drop here in Massachusetts and consumers begin to turn up their thermostats, thankfully prices will be much lower than they were last year.”

NSTAR has also filed a $0.9999/therm price for its fixed price option, which allows customers to lock in their natural gas rates for the entire season in order to maintain a predictable monthly bill. NSTAR makes no profit on the program.

In May, NSTAR announced that summer electric rates for residential customers would drop 8% compared to 2006 prices. Last month NSTAR announced that fourth quarter electricity rates for more than 1,000 large commercial and industrial customers would drop 17%, a decrease attributed to a drop-off in prices for oil and natural gas.

NSTAR is the largest Massachusetts-based, investor-owned electric and gas utility. The company transmits and delivers electricity and natural gas to 1.4 million customers in eastern and central Massachusetts.

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