While Delta Natural Gas customers got good news heading into the winter heating months, customers of Jackson Energy and Kentucky Utilities can expect their bills to be about the same as last year.

Delta announced this week that beginning in November and ending at the end of January, bills should be about 42 percent less than last year.

For example, a residential bill for last November, December, or January for $300 will be about $175 for the same period this year, said Bob Hazelrigg, Delta Natural Gas manager of external affairs.

The cost of gas to Delta this past summer was about half the price as last year and will be reflected in customers’ bills. Approximately 50 percent of the natural gas consumed by Delta customers during the winter months is purchased during the summer and injected into storage.

Delta does not mark up the cost of gas but earns its return from the monthly customer charge ($15.50) and the delivery charge (not shown on bill but is figured in with the gas price), which is established by the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

Delta’s rates are changed quarterly to reflect changes in the company’s cost of gas. The rates for the quarter beginning in February and ending in April will also be less than for the same period last year, but the ultimate cost of gas for that period will be impacted by actual gas costs as the winter progresses.

Delta serves about 37,000 customers in 23 counties of central and southeastern Kentucky.

Jackson Energy customers will not have rate increases on their bills this winter, according to Karen Combs, director of public relations. The company will, however, have a new billing option called levelized billing.

“We’ve done away with our budget billing program, which was just one set amount for the 12 months,” Combs said. “On the settlement month, you might have to pay additional if it was really cold weather or really hot weather in the summer. Our levelized billing is a rolling average. It’s a constant rolling average for the 12 months, so it helps eliminate those seasonal highs and lows. The bills will only vary about five to seven dollars a month. All of our customers on the budget program have been transferred over and anyone who wants to sign up for the levelized program can do so at any time.”

Kentucky Utilities customers also will not see any change in their bills, said Cliff Feltham, media relations manager.

“We think the costs for electricity this winter will remain about the same as last year,” Feltham said. “But, that will also be determined by how cold the weather is as well. The colder it is, the customers use more electricity to stay warm so that will add to the amount in bills they receive. Last winter had its cold days ... In the middle of January, the overnight low got below zero a couple of nights. So, if we have about the same weather, the prices should stay about the same.”

Feltham said other weather issues could affect heating costs, like the ice storm that hit parts of Kentucky last January.

“We'd like to have a winter without an ice storm this year as well,” Feltham added.

Staff writer Carol Mills can be reached at cmills@sentinel-echo.com.

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