12:30pm

Thu October 18, 2012
Winter Energy Prices

Winter energy bills will be up, especially if you use oil

With a return to normal winter weather predicted, you can expect to see about $80 more on your five-months-of-winter heating bill than you did last season, despite lower natural gas prices. The exception will be New York customers heating their homes with oil who are now paying about three times more for that commodity than those burning natural gas.

These, and other insights into how New York state is going to heat itself this winter were revealed during a hearing at the state's Public Service Commission today. Reporting to the Commission, John Sano who is the Utility Manager for the Office of Electric, Gas and Water said that New York's access to gas continues to improve and that Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) have adequate supplies for the winter, thanks to plentiful supplies available from the Marcellus Shale deposits in Pennsylvania.

John P. Sano, Utility Manager for the Office of Electric, Gas and Water reports on the state's natural gas supply readiness
John P. Sano, Utility Manager for the Office of Electric, Gas and Water reports on the state's natural gas supply readiness
Credit New York Public Service Commission Web Stream

The briefing also heard that their is a clear trend away from dependancy on Canadian natural gas, with the lower transport costs of the Pennsylvania gas playing a deciding role. Interruptions to Canadian supplies in the past led many suppliers to start sourcing their gas elsewhere and that trend has continued.

Last year's winter was between 17% - 25% warmer than normal and the anticipated return to average winter weather is the main reason for the forecast, despite an adjusted price for natural gas that's around 12% lower than last year. (Price estimate is $3.55 per decatherm)

Other risk factors that could impact on that price are:

Continued High Global Oil Prices - demand could increase as people switch to natural guess where possible.

Economy -  higher demand due to increased natural gas-fired generation, possible US industrial comeback and the Liguid Natural Gas export market.

Hurricanes - less of a potential risk due to the significant growth in market area gas production (meaning gas from the Marcellus and other shale gas resveres).

It's mainly remote and rural customers who are dependant on #2 heating oil and the commission also heard that it's unlikely there will ever be the opportunity for those residences to tap into the expanding gas pipeline infrastructure of New York.