Natural-gas prices predicted to be low

Source: Toledo Blade

COLUMBUS — Columbia Gas of Ohio issued its forecast for gas supplies for the upcoming winter months on Monday, and by its projections Ohioans can expect a mild winter in terms of cost.

In announcing its average budget payment plan amount for 2012-13, the natural gas utility said it foresees abundant supplies of gas that should keep consumers’ costs in check.

The utility calculated the average monthly payment at $66 — down $9 a month from last winter and among the lowest amounts of the last decade.

The budget plan spreads natural gas costs evenly over a 12-month period, lessening the impact of winter heating bills.

Columbia Gas said plentiful gas supplies have helped drive prices down by more than half in recent years. For example, the August, 2008, projected budget plan amount was $133 a month.

Each customer’s budget billing amount is different and can be higher or lower than the average depending on a variety of factors.

A customer’s monthly budget payment is based on historical gas use patterns for the home, the projected cost of natural gas on the wholesale market, and current rates for service and delivery.

The utility advises customers to sign up for the plan sooner, rather than later, to spread out the monthly payments as much as possible.

To enroll, customers can pay the promoted amount shown on their August bill, plus any nonutility charges for security deposits, optional services, or fuel-fund contributions, instead of the current amount due. They also can enroll online at, or call 1-800-344-4077.