CHARLOTTE, N.C., Oct. 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Piedmont Natural Gas (NYSE: PNY) issued its annual forecast for winter heating bills today saying that while monthly natural gas use by residential customers is likely to climb during the upcoming November through March winter period, projected natural gas costs remain moderate and should help blunt the impact of colder temperatures on monthly bills. Last year, winter temperatures were significantly warmer than normal, averaging approximately 21 percent warmer than normal throughout the Company's three state service area. With a possible return to colder, more normal winter temperatures, customers are more likely to increase their natural gas consumption and with it, see higher monthly natural gas bills.
Natural Gas Costs Significantly Lower Since 2008
Even with the prospect for colder winter temperatures this year, Piedmont Natural Gas said the cost of natural gas remains low relative to just a few years ago. "While we expect that our customers will see higher monthly bills this winter, natural gas costs remain significantly lower than they were back in 2008 when domestic natural gas supplies were just beginning to increase as a result of the discovery and production of onshore shale natural gas," commented Thomas E. Skains, Piedmont Natural Gas Chairman, President, and CEO. "In fact, we believe our residential customers will pay, on average, $150 - $225 less this winter than they did four years ago. This translates into significant savings and energy value for our customers."
Company Website a Resource for Energy Saving Tips for Customers
For customers who want to learn more about energy savings tips, Piedmont maintains a special section on its website devoted to educating customers about their home's energy usage. Visiting www.piedmontng.com, says Ranelle Warfield, Piedmont's Vice President of Customer Service, could help customers better manage the natural gas they use this winter along with their monthly bills, which Piedmont says could fluctuate anywhere from $6 to $26 more per month during the winter period as a result of normal, colder winter temperatures compared to those seen last year. "There are many steps that customers can take to get a better handle on their energy consumption," she said. "Some, like turning your thermostat down several degrees, save energy, cost nothing, and are simple to do. Others, like making sure windows and doors are properly sealed, only cost a few dollars and are easy to implement. Still other steps, like investing in a programmable thermostat or purchasing higher efficiency natural gas equipment and appliances, may cost a bit more upfront but will save the customer both energy and money over the life of the equipment."
For customers who want to know how much energy their home or their appliance uses, the Company has several energy calculator tools on its website as well, noted Warfield. "The energy calculator tools on our website are a great way for customers to see what energy their home actually uses and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their natural gas bills. These tools also give customers an idea of their home's carbon footprint, something we all have an interest in reducing."
Piedmont's "Share the Warmth" Program Assists Others in the Community
Piedmont noted in its winter forecast that many individuals and families within the communities served by the Company are still facing significant economic hardship. "Many of our customers continue to face difficult financial choices and economic challenges," said Piedmont's Skains. "One of the ways we can assist our neighbors who need help is by enrolling in Piedmont's Share the Warmth Round Up Program where we can sign up to have our monthly natural gas bills rounded up to the nearest dollar. The amount rounded up goes to provide emergency energy assistance funds to individuals and families within the communities Piedmont serves, regardless of what energy is used in the home or what time of year the need arises."
For those customers who want to learn more about the Share the Warmth Round Up Program or to enroll in the program, they are encouraged to visit Piedmont's website at www.piedmontng.com.
About Piedmont Natural Gas
Piedmont Natural Gas is an energy services company primarily engaged in the distribution of natural gas to more than one million residential, commercial and industrial utility customers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, including 53,000 customers served by municipalities who are wholesale customers. Our subsidiaries are invested in joint venture, energy-related businesses, including unregulated retail natural gas marketing, interstate natural gas storage and intrastate natural gas transportation. More information about Piedmont Natural Gas is available on the Internet at http://www.piedmontng.com/.
SOURCE Piedmont Natural Gas