Indianapolis-based Citizens Energy Group announced Wednesday that customers should expect an average price hike of about $18 per month for the five-month winter heating season running from November through March.
Meanwhile, CenterPoint Energy said its customers are likely to see a more modest price hike of $5 a month compared with last winter.
Citizens, which has about 800,000 customers in the area, said if temperatures are normal, the average total gas bill during that period should be about $555, compared with $465 last winter.
The utility said global natural gas prices have been rising sharply since February when Russia invaded Ukraine and then began to gradually restrict natural gas supplies to Europe.
As a result, U.S. natural gas producers have begun to export large quantities of liquefied natural gas to Europe, Citizens said. Increased demand for liquefied natural gas and rising demand for natural gas from electric power generators in the U.S. has resulted in natural gas prices more than doubling since last fall, the utility added.
“While we have been able to shield customers from the full impact of higher natural gas prices, we know many customers are struggling financially under the burdens of inflation, especially for essentials such as food, clothing and gasoline,” Citizens CEO Jeffrey Harrison said in written remarks.
CenterPoint Energy (formerly Vectren), which has more than a million gas customers in southern and central Indiana, said it expected customers to pay an average gas bill of $135 a month from November through March, up from about $130 a month last year, and $75 a month the previous winter.
“While energy market prices have continued to rise over the last year, offsets such as the completion of the recovery of charges associated with Winter Storm Uri will likely help customers not experience the significant increase of last winter season,” Ashley Babcock, CenterPoint vice president for Indiana and Ohio Gas, said in written remarks.
Both utilities said residents in need of energy assistance should visit IndyEap.org to see if they qualify for the Indiana Energy Assistance Program. Citizens’ customers who qualify for EAP will receive a discount on their gas bill ranging from 12% to 25%.
The utilities also urged customers to enroll in budget billing plans, which spread estimated costs for a year of gas service in equal monthly bills.