National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation (National Fuel) has submitted to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission its quarterly adjustment to gas supply charges to become effective Nov. 1, 2021. This adjustment increases the monthly bill of a typical residential customer with annual usage of 101,100 cubic feet of gas by $6.44, from $78.72 to $85.16.
The rate adjustment is primarily due to higher market prices for natural gas, which have increased the cost of natural gas supplies that National Fuel purchases for customers. Gas supply costs are passed along to customers dollar for dollar, with no mark-up or profit to National Fuel. Pennsylvania utility companies are permitted to update gas supply charges on a quarterly basis to reflect changes in the market price of natural gas. The next opportunity to adjust gas supply charges will be Feb. 1, 2022.
While gas prices are trending higher compared to the prior two years, National Fuel’s purchasing strategy and use of storage gas will limit any further volatility or price spikes that could result from a colder than normal winter or cold spike. Additionally, the one-time $100 bill credit and rate reduction recently approved by the PUC, offer residential customers savings on delivery charges that help offset the increase in gas supply costs. Credit and rate reduction amounts vary for commercial and industrial customers.
National Fuel’s price-to-compare gas commodity charge also will increase to $0.63333 per 100 cubic feet (ccf). This reference point, detailed on the National Fuel bill under Gas Supply Charges, is important for customers who are shopping for an alternate gas supplier.
As the result of cost-containment efforts and efficient management, National Fuel hasn’t sought to increase the delivery service charges paid by its residential customers since 2006, even while consistent investments in pipeline safety and system modernization have continued.
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, LIHEAP, is open. Eligibility for this federally funded program is based on income guidelines and household size. For example, a family of four with a gross monthly income of $3,312 may qualify for a grant. Monies are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. For additional information, visit www.LIHEAPhelps.com or contact 1-877-443-2743.
The Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) remains open for eligible tenant households. ERAP is a federally funded program created to help renters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic receive assistance with paying rent as well as utility and home energy bills. Utility bill assistance can include past and future bills. Customers should be aware that this program has a higher income eligibility than LIHEAP. Visit https://www.dhs.pa.gov/coronavirus/Pages/Emergency-Rental-Assistance-Program.aspx or call 211 for more information.
National Fuel customers who are having trouble paying their bills are encouraged to call 1-800-365-3234. Other payment assistance programs and services include:
• Budget Plan- predictable monthly gas bills and stabilized heating payments for the year.
• Deferred Payment Agreement- customers can negotiate a payment plan in the event of a problem or special circumstance.
• LIRA (Low-Income Residential Assistance Program)- reduced-rate monthly bills and debt forgiveness.
• LIURP (Low Income Usage Reduction Program)- weatherization assistance for customers who meet income and consumption requirements.
• CARES (Customer Assistance Referral Evaluation Services)- payment arrangements and assistance referrals for customers facing hardships.
• Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund- helps customers who are having difficulty paying bills and who meet one of the following criteria: at least 55 years old, a veteran, disabled, have a certified medical condition, or receiving unemployment benefits, meet basic energy needs.
Customers can save money and help the environment by becoming more energy efficient. Small, inexpensive adjustments include:
• Reduce air leaks and cut as much as 10% from monthly energy bills by using caulk or weather-stripping to seal leaks around floors, walls, ceilings, ducts, doors, windows, fans/vents, electric outlets, fireplaces and plumbing.
• Set thermostats between 65° and 70° during the winter and at 58° when away from the house. By turning thermostats back 10°-15° for eight straight hours, customers can save about 5%-15% a year on heating bills. Or buy a programmable thermostat.
• Close vents and doors in unused rooms. Close dampers on unused fireplaces. Warm air rises, so use registers to direct warm airflow across the floor.
• Set water heaters to 120° or the medium temperature setting. Drain a quart of water from the bottom of the heating tank every three months to remove sediment that can hamper the efficiency of the unit.
Smell gas? Leave fast!
As always, if you smell gas, leave fast! If a rotten-egg natural gas odor is present, leave the premises immediately and call National Fuel’s emergency line, 1-800-444-3130, from a different location. If you smell gas outdoors, leave the area immediately, call National Fuel’s emergency number and provide the address nearest to the site of the odor. To learn more about natural gas safety, visit https://www.nationalfuel.com/utility/gas-safety/.