Indianapolis-based Citizens Energy Group announced Thursday that customers should expect an average price hike of about $10 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 much higher increase.
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 $474, compared to $423 last winter.
The utility said it was shielding customers from a much larger price jump even though the market price for natural gas is about double the level of last fall.
The U.S. government warned Wednesday that it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter on a national basis.
Citizens said it would use various measure to keep prices down, including “use of its underground natural gas storage fields, price hedging contracts with suppliers and long-term gas supply contracts with discounts to market prices.”
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 $146 a month from November through March, up from about $75 last year.
“In the event we experience normal winter weather this heating season, coupled with a significant increase in natural gas prices, customers should expect an increase in their bills,” said Richard Leger, vice president of CenterPoint natural gas distribution in Indiana and Ohio, in a statement. “However, even with higher natural gas prices this winter heating season, bills should still remain lower than customers experienced in the late 2000s when prices for natural gas were at record levels nationwide.”
Citizens said its average residential natural gas bill last winter ranked the second lowest among the 18 gas utilities operating in the state, according to a monthly survey done by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.
The utility said Marion County residents in need of energy assistance should visit IndyEap.org to see if they qualify for the Indiana Energy Assistance Program. Through Citizens Universal Service Program, customers who qualify for EAP will receive a discount on their gas bill ranging from 12% to 25%.