NIPSCO customers across northern Indiana were shocked to see their average residential natural gas bill increase by 34 percent over last year’s, but it’s nothing that wouldn’t be expected, as the average temperatures across the area in January were 39 percent colder than last year.
Given the extreme weather conditions, the average natural gas bill for January is expected to be approximately $36 more than January 2013, and $19 more than what was originally forecasted during NIPSCO’s annual winter bill projections. Actual bills will vary by customer, depending on household size, age of appliances and usage, among other factors.
The extreme cold has increased the price of all heating energy around the country, including natural gas and propane. Higher market prices may impact bills in future months, and forecasts for February are calling for colder than normal temperatures, which may also increase customer usage.
Nearly two thirds of a customer bill is determined by the cost of natural gas and a customer’s usage. By law, NIPSCO has no mark-up and makes no profit on the cost of natural gas billed to its customers.
The extreme temperatures and weather also posed unsafe conditions for NIPSCO meter readers to provide actual reads for many customers and, instead, customers received estimated readings. For those customers who received an estimated bill, their actual usage will be reconciled the following month. Customers can enter their meter reading anytime through their online account or through NIPSCO’s automated phone system.