Expensive winter ahead: Natural gas rates going up in NJ
TRENTON – Ratepayers will be spending hundreds of dollars more this winter for natural gas in New Jersey, after state regulators approved rate increases averaging 20%, effective in October.
All four gas companies in the state had asked the Board of Public Utilities for rate increases, citing rising wholesale market prices for natural gas.
The increases apply to utility customers that have not chosen a third-party supplier for their gas.
The increase amounts to nearly $600 million over the course of the next year.
BPU commissioners blamed world events – presumably the war between Russia and Ukraine, though that wasn’t specified – as the driving force behind the jump.
“We are going to be seeing increases in rates in the near future because of the geopolitical events that are occurring in the world that are affecting the energy markets, and New Jersey, unfortunately, is not immune to that,” said Bob Gordon, a former state senator.
Board President Joseph Fiordaliso said ratepayers are foremost in the BPU’s analysis of petitions seeking rate increases but that utilities by state law are guaranteed to recover their charges.
“The utilities do not profit from the actions that we’ve taken regarding these increases,” he said.
“As unfortunate as it is to have to vote for these rate increases, I want to remind everyone that there are incentives and programs available to assist with your gas and electric bill,” said Fiordaliso, who urged people to contact their utility for help.
Income thresholds for the assistance programs have changed, so people who haven’t qualified for help in the past might now be eligible, Fiordaliso said.
For a residential heating customer using 100 therms in a month, with 1 therm equal to about 29 kilowatt-hours, the increases come to:
- $31.49 a month (18.6%) for South Jersey Gas Company customers
- $25.33 a month (22.9%) for Elizabethtown Gas Company customers
- $24.77 a month (24.5%) for Public Service Electric & Gas customers
- $21.01 a month (15.4%) for New Jersey Natural Gas customers
Over the course of a year, the increases project to $250 to $375 per customer, depending on their utility and energy consumption, as well as the temperatures this winter.
About 75% of New Jersey households rely on natural gas as their primary source for heating fuel, according to the federal Energy Information Administration.
Roughly half of a New Jersey household’s annual natural gas consumption takes place between December and February. More than 80% takes place between November and April.