Natural gas bill projections expected to be flat

Indianapolis, Ind.  –Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana – North (Vectren) announced today customers should expect natural gas bills to be relatively flat when compared to those of last winter, assuming normal winter weather year-over-year. Natural gas prices continue to be low and stable, which is helping customers’ bill amounts to remain affordable.

Last winter was about 15 percent warmer than normal, which kept bills lower than projections. This year, based upon expected natural gas commodity costs and normal winter weather, customers can expect to pay around $485 over the five-month heating season of November through March based on the average household consumption of approximately 625 therms. By comparison, last year’s average bill amount for the 5-month period, had weather been normal would have been around $480.

“Last winter was mild and in the event we return to more normal winter weather, coupled with stable gas prices, bills will remain reasonably priced,” said Mike Roeder, president of Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana – North. 

The Energy Information Administration continues to recognize natural gas as the most affordable heating source. In fact, Vectren gas customers who heated their homes with natural gas last year saved up to $870 compared to those who heat with propane and $280 to $950 compared to those who heat with an electric heat pump or electric furnace, respectively.

Although the market points to continued low, stable natural gas pricing for years to come, customers are encouraged to still implement energy efficiency measures and find ways to use less natural gas to lower bills even further. As a reminder, bills will vary by customer depending on the size and age of the home, number of gas appliances, number in the household, thermostat settings and levels of insulation.

Vectren has in place a number of tools to help customers manage their energy bills.

·         Energy efficiency resources – Vectren offers appliance rebates and energy-saving tools to help customers lower their natural gas bills. All Indiana residential and small commercial natural gas customers are eligible. Visit Vectren.com/energyefficiency or call 1-866-240-8476 for a list of rebates, qualifying appliances and energy efficiency tips.

·         Budget Bill: Under this billing plan, a customer’s estimated costs for a year of gas service are spread in equal monthly bill amounts for the year. This leveling of monthly bill amounts reduces the need to pay the full amount in the winter and spreads some of those higher bill charges into the non-heating months. Amounts are adjusted each summer for actual costs, and the customer’s credit or amount due rolls into the next Budget Bill payment for the next 12-month period. A mid-winter recalculation may occur for some customers if gas costs significantly change during the heating season. Customers can enroll for free atwww.vectren.com or by calling 1-800-227-1376.

·         Energy Assistance Program (EAP):  State and federal utility assistance dollars are available for income-eligible customers. Those that fall within 150 percent of federal poverty guidelines should visit their local community action agency to sign up for the EAP. To apply for the EAP, customers should call 1-800-872-0371 to locate their nearest community action agency. Community action agencies will begin taking applications for all energy assistance programs on Nov. 1.

·         Universal Service Program (USP): All eligible natural gas heating customers who apply and qualify for EAP will automatically be enrolled in the Universal Service Program (USP), which provides additional gas bill reductions that range from 15 to 32 percent of the total bill received (not including EAP benefits) in the months of December through May. The USP, which has been in place since 2005 is the result of a collaborative effort by Vectren, Citizens Energy Group, the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Citizens Action Coalition and a group representing industrial customers. The program provides about $1.5 million in assistance each year to roughly 15,000 Vectren Indiana customers, including crisis assistance dollars, which target qualified low-income and working-poor households that need additional help to get reconnected and/or maintain heat throughout the upcoming winter.

·         Share the Warmth:  Those wanting to help the less fortunate with their energy bills can contribute to Share the Warmth, a nonprofit organization that assists income-eligible customers with home weatherization services. Each year, Vectren matches all public donations, up to an annual total of $225,000. Donations may be tax-deductible and can be sent to Share the Warmth, P.O. Box 931, Evansville, IN 47706-0931 or visit www.sharethewarmthinc.com. Customers who pay their bills at Vectren.com may donate through a bill round-up feature. In 2016, over 100,000 customers used this feature to direct donations to Share the Warmth.  This option contributed nearly $95,000, which was matched by Vectren.

“Vectren encourages customers to reach out to us before they get behind on payments if they are in need of financial assistance, as there are several options to help customers manage costs” said Roeder. “Local community action agencies can further provide assistance and customers should call today and apply for financial and/or home weatherization assistance if needed.”

Vectren utilities are not allowed to markup, nor profit, from the purchase and sale of natural gas. Only gas costs actually incurred and approved by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission are recovered from customers.

Natural gas is a commodity bought and sold in a national deregulated market and prices fluctuate daily due to supply and demand pressures. Vectren purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers and then passes those costs on to customers through the gas cost adjustment, which is listed on the Vectren bill as “Gas Cost Charge.”

Vectren North delivers natural gas to approximately 578,000 customers in Adams, Allen, Bartholomew, Blackford, Boone, Clark, Clay, Clinton, Decatur, Delaware, Fayette, Floyd, Fountain, Grant, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Huntington, Jackson, Jay, Jefferson, Johnson, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Martin, Miami, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Orange, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Wabash, Warren, Wayne, Wells and White counties.

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