Due to a significant increase in wholesale natural gas prices, New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) filed a notice with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) for a 5% increase related to Basic Gas Supply Service (BGSS) for residential and certain small commercial customers effective Dec. 1, 2021.
Since May 2021, wholesale natural gas prices on the NYMEX – a benchmark index for gas commodity pricing – have increased by nearly 80%. The change to the BGSS is necessary to recover these higher commodity costs. While the underlying reasons for the surge in market prices cannot be tied to one specific cause or event, potential factors influencing the wholesale prices include the global supply demand imbalance and lagging storage levels.
The BGSS rate reflects natural gas commodity prices. These costs are passed through directly to customers and do not result in any increase to NJNG’s profits. If prices decline in the future, NJNG will return any over recoveries to customers through bill credits or rate reductions, as it has done previously. Last year alone, NJNG provided customers with bill credits totaling $20.6 million.
“Through our purchasing strategies, New Jersey Natural Gas works to responsibly manage our supply to serve our customers and minimize the impact of price volatility as much as possible,” said Mark Kahrer, senior vice president-Regulatory Affairs, Marketing and Energy Efficiency at NJNG. “After more than a decade of relatively low natural gas prices, this year we saw a sharp increase to the wholesale cost of natural gas, requiring us to take this action. We will continue to monitor market conditions and whenever possible, we will pass on any savings to customers.”
The average NJNG residential heating customer using 100 therms a month will see their bill go up $5.93. This is in addition to the BPU’s recent approval of NJNG’s new base rates and annual BGSS and Conservation Incentive Program filings resulting in an increase of $13.23. When combined, the typical customers will see their monthly bill go from $117.05 to $136.21, effective Dec. 1, 2021.
Consistent with the BPU’s January 6, 2003 board order, New Jersey’s utilities are permitted to implement rate adjustments of up to 5% in December and February. This allows for the necessary cost recovery to keep pace with any wholesale natural gas market trends. Utilities may also decrease rates at any time.
Any customer having trouble paying their natural gas bills should contact NJNG to learn about available energy assistance programs. Resources include deferred payment arrangements, budget plans, utility bill payment assistance, one-time grants and low- or no-cost energy- efficiency programs to help reduce consumption and lower bills.
“There are multiple options available to assist customers who need financial assistance to pay their utility bills. Federal and state programs are already in place to help, and NJNG’s Gift of Warmth program goes the extra mile to help our customers with their natural gas bills. If you are having trouble, reach out to us for assistance, we are here to help,” Kahrer said.
If you or someone you know is a NJNG utility residential customer in need of assistance, call 800-221-0051 and say “energy assistance” at the prompt to speak with an NJNG customer service representative or email us at email@example.com. NJNG also offers energy-efficiency programs through The SAVEGREEN PROJECT®, including rebates and financing options for high-efficiency equipment, to help customers save energy and money. For more information, visit savegreenproject.com.
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