Forecast: Lower winter heating bills

MERRILLVILLE — NIPSCO natural gas residential customers can expect their overall bills during this year’s winter heating season to be less when compared to last year, based on the continued low cost of natural gas and assuming normal weather and usage.

Over the course of the upcoming five-month winter heating season – Nov. 1 to March 31 – NIPSCO’s average natural gas residential customers using the system average of 625 therms total could expect to pay approximately $404 in total, the utility said. 

In comparison, last year’s average bill for the same five months, had weather been normal, would have been $441.

NIPSCO is the second lowest-cost natural gas provider among Indiana’s 18 provider companies based on Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission surveys, according to NIPSCO. 

There are two primary components of natural gas bills – the cost of the natural gas itself and the cost of delivering the natural gas to customers. For the cost of natural gas itself, NIPSCO passes it directly through to customers with no markup. The cost of all components of NIPSCO’s gas service is reviewed and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Projections take into account market forecasts, supply trends and storage levels, and are based on normal weather projections. If temperatures are colder or warmer than normal, usage amounts and bills could differ.

To help ensure customers receive the best price for natural gas, NIPSCO purchases gas in the market from a variety of supply sources throughout the year. Gas storage is also used to help offset market price volatility. NIPSCO’s gas distribution system consists of two on-system storage facilities and is connected to seven interstate pipelines providing access to major North American supply basins.

Payment options

Customers who are experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to call NIPSCO’s 24-hour Customer Care Center as soon as possible to determine what options might be available to offer help. Some of those solutions include:

n Bill Payment Assistance Programs: Based on income levels, customers may qualify to receive state and federal utility assistance dollars as well as support funds from separate NIPSCO programs by visiting their local community action agency.

n Budget Plan: A free service to all NIPSCO customers to help manage their monthly energy bills by spreading out gas costs over an entire year.

n Payment Arrangements: Allows customers to make an initial payment within four days of the agreement, then spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.

Usage makes up the largest portion of the average energy bill. Because of this, NIPSCO offers energy-efficiency programs to help manage usage and, in turn, bills.

More information on programs and tips for saving energy, as well as billing options and payment assistance, is available at NIPSCO.com.

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