MERRILLVILLE, Ind. (WANE) Because the average temperature across northern Indiana was 17 degrees in January, as opposed to 28 degrees the same month a year go, NIPSCO’s residential gas customers can expect the average gas bill to be $36 higher than in January of 2013.
The utility issued a press release Tuesday morning that indicates natural gas consumption for the average residential customer was up 34 percent from a year ago.
“The first two months of the year typically represent the highest bills of the year for Indiana homes and businesses, as well as other parts of the Midwest. Our region experienced some of the coldest days in the last several decades, resulting in higher than normal usage,” said Deb Owen, NIPSCO’s executive director of customer service. “Even with thermostats being set at a fixed temperature, it doesn’t escape the fact that heating systems have to constantly run to keep up with dropping outdoor temperatures.”
The average bill for January will be $19 more than what NiPSCO originally projected. Actual bills will of course vary by customer depending on household size, age of appliances and usage.
According to NIPSCO, the extreme cold has increased the price of all heating energy around the country, including natural gas and propane. Throughout these conditions, NIPSCO did not experience any significant operational challenges to serve its customers, and NIPSCO has been able to acquire the additional supplies to meet the critical demand.
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. Before billing, natural gas commodity costs must be reviewed by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
Billing and Payment Options
Customers who are experiencing financial difficulties are encouraged to call NIPSCO’s Customer Care Center to determine what options might be available to offer help. Solutions include:
- Payment Assistance Programs: Based on income levels, customers may qualify to receive state and federal utility assistance dollars, as well as support funds from separate NIPSCO programs, by visiting their local community action agency.
- BudgetPlan: A free service to all NIPSCO customers to help manage their monthly energy bills by spreading out gas costs over an entire year.
- Payment Arrangements: Allows customers to make an initial payment within four days of the agreement, then spread the remaining unpaid balance over three months, plus current bills as they are due.
For more information on billing options and payment assistance, visit NIPSCO.com/PaymentAssistance.