O&R: Forecast Mixed for Winter Energy Bills

O&R today predicted that the coming winter’s energy bills will differ slightly from last year’s bills: natural gas bills will rise slightly and electric bills will decrease slightly.

For Gas:

Based on its most recent forecast, O&R predicts that this winter’s residential natural gas bills for its customers will be approximately 2.1 percent higher than last winter’s. The increase is driven by increased delivery rates, partially offset by lower costs for natural gas supply.

The average monthly winter gas bill for a typical O&R full-service residential customer who uses natural gas for home heating is expected to increase $3.59 from $168.58 last year to $172.17 this year.

That estimate is based on the average usage of 162 ccf per month.

For Electric:

Based on its most recent forecast, O&R predicts that this winter’s residential electric bills for its customers will be approximately 1.2 percent lower than last winter’s.

That forecast reflects lower costs for electric supply partially offset by increased delivery rates.

The average monthly winter electric bill for a typical O&R residential customer is expected to decrease $1.63 from $135.60 last year to $133.97 this year.

That estimate is based on the average usage of 600 kWh per month.

One of the other elements that factor into O&R customers’ gas and electric bills is customer usage: the more you use, the higher the bill.

During the winter season, extreme cold weather can create spikes in gas and electric supply costs.

As a utility, O&R does not control the price of natural gas or electricity, and O&R makes no profit on either commodity.

However, O&R does analyze the supply and demand forecasts to create effective buying strategies that help minimize price fluctuations. These prices are passed on to the customers at cost.

# What can residential customers do to lower their energy costs?

Two potential ways save on energy costs are:

* Employ energy efficiency tips and programs to reduce your energy use through technological and conservation measures and
* Shop for alternate energy suppliers which may or may not provide you with a cheaper price on energy purchases.
To better manage the monthly utility bill to avoid unpredictable bills that result from seasonal usage variations, sign up for O&R’s Budget Billing program.

Budget Billing does not reduce your overall energy expense. It simply lets you spread out your annual energy expense over a 12-month period and lets you know ahead of time what your monthly payment will be. That makes managing the household budget much easier.

For additional information about this program and energy efficiency and alternate energy supplier programs, visit O&R’s Web site at www.oru.com.

O&R urges its customers to always put safety first. Anyone who smells natural gas should leave the area immediately and call O&R’s emergency gas hotline at 1-800-533-LEAK (5325) or 911.

For safety’s sake, O&R offers these winter home safety tips:

* Operate a portable electric generator only outdoors and, when outdoors, operate the portable generator only a safe distance from the air intakes on adjacent buildings.
* Operate vehicles or gasoline-powered equipment, such as a portable generator, only outside of a garage, even if the garage door is open.
* Never use a gas oven or range to heat indoors.
* Never use an unvented open-flame or charcoal grill to cook or heat indoors.

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