Oklahoma Heating Rates Could Drop This Winter

Friday, September 4th 2009, 6:26 pm
By: News On 6

By Emory Bryan, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Natural gas prices continue to drop and one News On 6 viewer wanted to know how that might be reflected in this winter's heating bills.  Fuel costs across the board are way down from the high of last summer and it is slowly being reflected in bills from the utility company Oklahoma Natural Gas.

While there's no way to predict the winter, there is a very good chance the cost of heating your home will be much lower than last year.  That's because the cost of natural gas is less than a third of what it was a year ago.

"And, what you pay as a typical customer is the average of all that, so there's more expensive gas in the mix right now we bought months ago, but we're also out taking advantage of lower prices to buy more gas and if those trends continue and we can continue to buy gas at a less expensive price, then the average cost is going to go down as well," said Don Sherry with Oklahoma Natural Gas.

The price drop for natural gas is cutting electricity bills, too.  Public Service Company of Oklahoma [PSO] uses gas to generate a third of the electricity it sells.

"Over the past year, it's had a significant impact, because we've lowered the fuel cost portion of our bills five times," said PSO's Stan Whiteford.

PSO continues to rely on coal for electric generation, which is still a less expensive fuel than natural gas. 

For people who use gas to heat their homes the price is getting better by the day.

The market price is $2.58 a dekatherm.  The price ONG charges now is $7.60 a dekatherm, reflecting higher prices in the past.  But, the company is offering customers an annual lock in price of $6.19.

"Market conditions change, the price could come down, so it comes down to whether you think that's a good price and you're willing to commit to it for a 12 month period," said ONG's Don Sherry.

Sherry says customers who lock in the rate have saved money only in a couple of the last seven years the company has had the option.  People who do not lock in will at least for the short term continue to see the lower costs reflected on their bills.