Saturday, February 21, 2009

Natural Gas Prices Continue to Fall in Kentucky

Feb. 20--Kentucky residents will see lower natural gas costs in February than they did at the start of the heating season in November, according to the Kentucky Public Service Commission. The latest round of natural gas cost adjustments approved for Kentucky's five largest natural gas distribution utilities show an average decline of $1.10 per 1,000 cubic feet of gas. A typical customer using 10,000 cubic feet of gas per month will pay $11 less for gas than three months ago. One of the five largest, Atmos Energy, isn't seeing such a large decrease, but is still trying to average out gas prices from the summer. "We're still roughly at $11 per cubic foot," said Kay Comes, with Atmos. "Last year, gas prices were really high and we were trying to average them out and we're still trying to keep that recovered through the winter. Hopefully by spring we'll see those prices come down for our customers, but anything can change. It's a daily process and we're keeping our fingers crossed." Atmos Energy supplies natural gas for 12 states including Kentucky. The Atmos Kentucky/Mid-States division covers Barren and Hart among other counties. These declines show that the downturn in the wholesale price of natural gas is making its way to customers," said PSC chairman David Armstrong in a news release. "If wholesale prices remain low, consumers should see further decreases in their costs in the coming months." In November, customers of Kentucky's five largest distribution companies were paying an average of $11.70 per cubic foot of gas. In January, the average was $10.60 per cubic foot. In February the average cost is $9.63. Based on filings received from companies that will readjust their gas costs in March, the average cost per cubic foot will decline again next month. Natural gas prices peaked last summer, according to a news release. Because wholesale costs must be passed on to consumers on a dollar-to-dollar basis, retail prices this winter are reflecting the cost of that stored gas as it is withdrawn and used. As the stored gas is consumed and replaced by or mixed with lower-priced gas bought more recently, the cost to consumers should continue to decline, according to the release. The five largest distribution companies in Kentucky are Atmos Energy, Columbia Gas of Kentucky Inc., Delta Natural Gas Inc., Louisville Gas and Electric Co. and Duke Energy Kentucky, Inc. Together the five companies serve more than 750,000 customers in Kentucky and deliver about 176 billion cubic feet of gas annually. Approximately 44 percent of Kentuckians heat their homes with natural gas.


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