Friday, February 27, 2004

March's bills higher than last year

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The typical bill for residential natural gas customers in Southwest Ohio will be about 14 percent higher in March than a year ago, Cinergy Corp. said Thursday.

Despite the higher year-over-year cost, the utility holding company said the typical homeowner's bill will be down from this month - because of lower wholesale gas prices and smaller adjustments to recover uncollected gas costs.

The parent of Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. said a homeowner using 10,800 cubic feet of gas will pay $111.56 starting Monday compared with $97.62 last March. In February, that same customer is paying $118.21.

In Northern Kentucky, customers of Union Light, Heat & Power will pay $113.33 for the same amount of gas in March, up 12 percent from $100.86 a year ago. This month that same customer paid $114.72.

By law, Cinergy is required to pass the cost of gas it supplies to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis. The gas cost, which typically represents about two-thirds or more of the monthly gas bill, will be $79.63 in March for the typical customer, up from $67.82 last March in CG&E's service area.

In ULH&P's service area, the March gas cost portion of the typical customer's bill will be $75.24 versus $66.98 a year ago.

Cinergy spokesman Steve Brash said the utility is seeing somewhat lower wholesale prices for gas.

The utility typically buys about a third of the gas it supplies during the warmer months and stores it for winter delivery. Another third is bought on long-term contracts to lock in lower prices, and the remaining third is purchased on shorter-term contracts to take advantage of price fluctuations

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