Natural gas market prices have increased significantly from this time last year. The increase is attributable to a variety of factors including increased domestic gas demand for electric generation, increased global demand for natural gas, and increased exporting of U.S. produced natural gas overseas. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has forecast for the winter of 2021-22 that residential natural gas prices will increase by 30% nationally and by 22% in the South region.
As a result of the market increases for natural gas, PCUD is alerting its customers that higher natural gas prices will likely impact most monthly heating bills during the upcoming winter season. The actual impact on customers is highly dependent on the weather this winter as weather primarily affects heating usage.
PCUD does not mark up what we pay for natural gas, rather the cost of the commodity is a straight pass-through to customers. PCUD purchases a portion of gas in advance in the summer, when prices are generally cheaper, and stores it for use in winter to help protect our customers financially.
PCUD offers a Budget Billing program to help customers ease bill fluctuations. The program is free for customers and stabilizes utility charges that vary by changing seasons and different energy usage patterns. Customers are eligible to enroll in budget billing beginning in April of each year. Additional information on budget billing is available on our website or call PCUD to talk to a customer service representative.
PCUD encourages any customer facing financial hardship to communicate with the company to discuss options and potential Financial Assistance. PCUD works with several area community action agencies and charities who provide utility bill assistance. Additional information on energy assistance is available on our website or call PCUD to talk to a customer service. representative.