Beginning in August 2014, city of Richmond Department of Public Utilities (DPU) natural gas customers will see their monthly bills adjusted to reflect an increase in the cost of the natural gas that DPU purchases on behalf of its customers. This is the first “purchased gas cost” adjustment for the natural gas utility since 2012. By law, the price paid for natural gas is passed on dollar for dollar to customers without markup or profit. Following this adjustment, the typical total monthly residential bill will be a seasonal monthly amount of $41.88 compared to the current monthly bill of $34.63. This cost comparison is based on a 23 ccf seasonal monthly summer usage level. (A ccf is the measurement used for natural gas usage and is the equivalent of 100 cubic feet.)
Similar to other gas companies in Virginia, this adjustment is in alignment with the overall stability of natural gas markets. Despite the fact that all energy sectors (electricity, heating oil, propane) are experiencing rising prices, natural gas still prevails as the most efficient and economical choice of fuel for home heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying. The June 10, 2014 U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) Short-Term Energy Outlook projects a return to near-normal weather conditions and lower residential and commercial consumption. Before entering the heating season, DPU will review and adjust the gas costs on a quarterly basis to reflect the price the company pays for natural gas.
DPU offers information and programs year round to encourage customers to effectively manage utility bills. Programs and initiatives to assist customers with preparing for PGC adjustments include:
· The Equal Monthly Payment Program (EMPP), which spreads payments evenly over 12 months, and other convenient payment plans. The EMPP works well because the annual customer bill is used to calculate an equal payment amount that spreads the cost over the entire year and allows customers to develop a monthly energy budget. Call DPU’s Customer Care Center at (804) 646-7000 for more information.
· Beginning Dec.15, 2014, residents in DPU's service territory may apply for funds through the City's MetroCare Program. This heating bill paying assistance program provides funds to families and individuals who are having trouble paying their primary heating bills due to a financial difficulty or other special hardship. For more information, call 804-646-7000.
· DPU’s annual Senior Weatherization Kit Giveaway happens in Oct. 2014 at Pleasants Hardware. Weatherization is an easy and simple way to cut the cost of your energy bills. Other agencies such as the Department of Social Services, Senior Connections, and Human Services and the Office of Aging and Persons with Disabilities will be on hand to provide information and assistance.