Winter is into its final stretch, and it looks like another heating season without big spikes in natural gas prices.
By STEVE EVERLY
The Kansas City Star
Ample production and supplies helped keep a lid on prices, which peaked in October on the New York Mercantile Exchange at $4.02 for 1,000 cubic feet, less than at that time a year earlier. Natural gas on Wednesday was $3.44.
Prices did rise in March last year, but theres optimism that wont happen this year.
The way things are headed right now, we dont see that, said Jim Bartling, a spokesman for Atmos Energy, which has customers on the Kansas side of the metro area.
Area utilities pass on to customers their cost of gas, which is what the utilities paid for the gas, plus some transportation and storage charges.
Atmos customers for all of 2012 paid about 10 percent less for a unit of gas compared with the previous year. And this January and February, the cost was down just over 1 percent compared to what was paid for the same months in 2012.
Though this winter hasnt had long frigid spells, it still has been colder than the previous one, which was unusually warm. That could cause heating bills to increase some because homes will use more gas even though the cost of gas has been down or about the same.
The cost of gas for Missouri Gas Energys customers was $6.47 per 1,000 cubic feet, compared with $6.16 at the start of last winter, which declined to $5.27 last February, said Jason Fulp, a spokesman for the utility.
Dawn Ewing of Kansas Gas Service said customer bills this winter had been comparable to bills during last years heating season.
Were anticipating this will remain true for the rest of the winter, she said.
Supplies remained good as the production of shale gas continued to climb. And natural gas in storage hit an all-time record in November and has remained higher than the five-year average. The Energy Information Administration expects wholesale gas prices, which averaged $2.75 in 2012, to rise to $3.74 in 2013 and $3.90 in 2014.
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