ONG's voluntary fixed price plan

Tuesday, September 16th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Experts have been warning of the potential for high heating bills this winter since the temperature outside was 100 degrees. News on 6 consumer reporter Rick Wells warns us that now is the time to do something to protect you from wildly fluctuating natural gas bills.

For years about the only way to control your monthly gas bill was to control the thermostat. Try to use less and keep the cost down. Last year ONG offered something called the voluntary fixed price plan. You locked in the gas price for a year, folks saved money.

Andrea Chancellor with ONG: "We are averaging about $75 in savings over the year for folks on the program last year." But the natural gas market is different this year than last, natural gas is much more expensive.

So what options do we have beyond the thermostat, to control the bill? The voluntary fixed price plan is available again, but the price is higher. "None the less the customer still has the opportunity to control the gas cost portion of their bill by signing up." There's monthly averaging, the budget payment plan. "Which levels out the cost of the bills over a 12 month period." You pay the same amount every month. And finally there's a combination of the two, called simply the budget plan. The locked in price for gas and the 12-month average.

Right now the cost of natural gas is $5.67. Last year at this time that same unit of gas cost $3.80. The locked in price for the fixed price plan will be $6.41.

Will the market price go higher than the fixed price and save you money? Experts say yes but no one really knows.