INDIANAPOLIS — Some good news when it comes to keeping your home warm this winter: it’s looking like you may save some money on your energy bill.
Indiana energy companies are projecting a decrease in the cost of natural gas compared to last winter. Citizens Energy Group estimates monthly bills will fall an average of $17 for the five-month heating season, bringing the total down from $546 to $462.
CenterPoint Energy predicts more than a 15% drop, saying last year’s higher, more volatile gas prices have stabilized.
Olivia Rivera, a spokesperson with the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, said what customers see on their bills depends on the national market.
“If natural gas prices decrease, they are then required to go to the IURC and decrease those gas costs, so the utility is not allowed to make a profit on this specific portion of the bill,” Rivera said.
She said you can also save money on heating by making sure your windows are sealed, adding weather stripping and signing up for a payment plan if you need one.
“I think it’s important to remember that this is a decrease relative to the super high bills we had last winter,” Citizens Action Coalition Program Director Ben Inskeep said. “So it’s not like we’re actually having lower bills than years in the past.”
Inskeep said he’s concerned with the state’s reliance on natural gas for heating.
“Because you get what happens like last year – if there’s a big increase in the commodity cost of natural gas, it’s passed right on to consumers and so you can have spiking bills that you have no ability to control,” he said.
FOX59 also spoke with Rivera and Inskeep about potential changes to a different utility bill.
AES Indiana requested to raise base rates by 8.4%, bringing annual revenues to more than $134 million. The OUCC recommended a significantly lower base rate increase that would only raise revenue by about $19 million.
“We felt that was unnecessary. It would be substantially higher than any other major electric utility in Indiana,” Rivera said.
Inskeep said the Citizens Action Coalition agrees, but he feels the recommendation doesn’t go far enough.
“We’re recommending an outright rejection of this entire rate increase,” Inskeep said. “We see there’s an urgent crisis under AES Indiana’s current rates that needs to be addressed before we can talk about making further increases to those rates.”
A spokesperson with AES Indiana responded to FOX59’s request for an interview with the statement below.
AES Indiana is currently evaluating the Stakeholder testimony and will continue to work with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission to develop rates that allow us to provide our customers with reliable, affordable and sustainable energy solutions. AES Indiana will file rebuttal testimony by November 8, with an evidentiary hearing scheduled for December 4 through 7. There are no additional comments outside of what is in our filing.Kelly Young, AES Indiana