Prepare for higher natural gas bills

(KFOR) – Customers with CenterPoint Energy may soon see a jump in their natural gas bills.
 CenterPoint Energy announced that its Oklahoma customers may see an increase in their natural gas bills compared to last winter, assuming that we experience normal winter weather.
 Based on expected costs, Oklahoma customers can expect to pay an average of $95 per month this winter from November through March. By comparison, last year’s average bill for the same time span was $71.
 “On average across the United States, we expect prices for all fuels to be higher than in recent winters. Rising wholesale commodity prices for natural gas, crude oil, and petroleum products are being passed through to retail prices. Although we attribute price increases over the past year to several factors, the main reason wholesale prices of natural gas, crude oil and petroleum products have risen is that fuel demand has increased from recent lows faster than production,” the Winter Fuels Outlook report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration states.
 CenterPoint says it does not mark up or profit from the purchase and sale of natural gas in Oklahoma. CenterPoint Energy purchases natural gas on behalf of its customers and then passes those costs on to customers through a gas cost adjustment, which is listed on the bill as “Gas Supply Rate.”
 “We encourage our customers to prepare now for the winter heating season ahead,” said Cindy Westcott, CenterPoint Energy Vice President for Arkansas and Oklahoma. “Whether it’s payment assistance options or energy efficiency improvements, we’re available to help our customers manage their heating costs. It’s also important to remember that, even with higher natural gas prices this winter heating season, bills should still remain lower than customers experienced in the late 2000s when natural gas prices were at record levels nationwide.”
 The actual bill impact will vary by customer depending on the size and age of the home, number of gas appliances, number of people in the household, thermostat settings, levels of insulation and other factors.
 The utility serves about 100,000 customers in the state.