The average price of natural gas for residential customers of National Fuel Gas is increasing by $1.46 per month, starting today.
The average monthly bill for a residential customer using 99,400 cubic feet of natural gas a year increases 2.01 percent from $72.63 to $74.09, according to Carly Manino, a spokeswoman for the utility, on Thursday.
Today’s increase follows a similar increase of 2.08 percent in November that raised average monthly bills $1.48 from $71.15 to $72.63.
Market prices of natural gas remain near historic lows when compared to the previous 10 years due to the large supply of shale gas, according to Manino. Nearly all of the gas consumed by National Fuel utility customers comes from Pennsylvania-produced shale gas.
A year ago, National Fuel customers saw bills fall $1.63 per month after a 2.2 percent decrease from $74.18 to $72.55. In February 2017, bills went up $4.50 per month, increasing by 6.6 percent from $68.54 to $73.06.
The current price increase comes after National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. submitted its quarterly gas supply charge adjustment to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. The gas supply charge is the price the utility pays for natural gas and under PUC regulations must be passed along to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis.
According to PUC regulations, the gas supply charge may be adjusted quarterly to account for changes in the price of natural gas. The PUC allows National Fuel to adjust its purchased gas cost rate in February, May, August and November.
The gas supply charge is different from the delivery service charges on a customer’s bill, which reflects the company’s other costs of doing business, according to Manino. National Fuel hasn’t sought to increase the delivery service charge in more than 10 years, she said, as it has implemented cost-containment and productivity efforts.
Delivery service charges are regulated and ultimately set by the PUC.
National Fuel has approximately 209,000 customers in 14 Pennsylvania counties, including Crawford County.