National Grid’s winter heating season forecast calls for customers to see natural gas bills that are slightly lower than seen during typical upstate New York winters, thanks to a predicted small decrease in wholesale supply prices and continued flat delivery prices.
National Grid’s natural gas delivery prices have remained stable since 2004 and the company recently received approval to hold them at current levels through March 2018.
As a result, the company forecasts total residential natural gas bills from Nov. 1 through March 31 to be approximately $455, or about $12 less than the typical upstate winter, based on an average use of 713 therms. Last winter’s usage was much lower at 610 therms due to extremely mild weather, which further reduced bills, officials said.
The company said the supply side of a residential customer’s electricity bill for the coming winter is expected to be only slightly higher than last year, but well below the winter of 2014-2015. Based on 600 kilowatt-hours of usage, total monthly residential bills will be about $2 more than last winter, but about $8 lower than monthly bills two years ago. The delivery side of the electricity bill also will remain at current levels through March 2018.
“Our plan to hold delivery prices steady, combined with generally stable supply prices, means continued positive news for energy consumers,” said Ken Daly, president of National Grid in New York. “Last winter was remarkably mild and stable prices will certainly be a benefit to consumers if we return to more typical winter weather.”
National Grid’s delivery prices are set by regulation and are consistent across the company’s upstate service area. Supply prices are based on competitive market rates, and National Grid does not profit from the energy it purchases on its customers’ behalf. Last winter was far milder than normal, resulting in energy bills that were much lower than a typical winter as customers used less energy and supply prices dipped.
Overall energy bills for most consumers have trended down over the last decade, assuming equal usage, officials said. After factoring in inflation, total residential natural gas bills are 49 percent lower than in 2004-2005, as supply prices have dropped and National Grid’s delivery prices have remained nearly flat.
The company said electricity bills, likewise, have been stable for the past decade or more. Adjusted for inflation, total residential electricity bills (supply and delivery) are 20 percent lower than in 2004.
The company cautioned that extreme weather can have dramatic effects on both natural gas and electricity wholesale supply markets, and price forecasts provided are based on the current view of the market for the upcoming winter. Last winter’s mild conditions generally resulted in commodity prices dropping, while the polar vortex of two winters ago had the opposite effect.
Daly said energy efficiency measures remain the best way to manage a home energy bill. From changing furnace filters and swapping out light bulbs, to installing a Wi-Fi enabled thermostat, consumers can make significant changes in their energy consumption regardless of weather.