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National Fuel: winter heating season will feature rising natural gas costs

The utility company says there will be a 43 percent increase in the average residential customer's winter heating bill, compared to a year ago.

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — You have a good reason to be concerned about winter heating bills and the cost of natural gas, according to National Fuel.

The utility company says there will be a 43 percent increase in the average residential customer's winter heating bill, compared to a year ago, with the cost coming to $714 between November and March. Last year during the same time frame, customers paid $498.

"This expected increase is due to rising natural gas commodity prices and a return to what forecasters believe will be a more normal winter for Western New York, which will result in higher usage for the average customer," National Fuel said in a statement on Thursday.

The company cited last year's warmer-than-usual temperatures during the winter months to explain last year's prices. National Fuel also mentioned forecasts for more snow this winter.

National Fuel says 90 percent of residents in its Western New York service area use natural gas to heat their homes and businesses.

There are assistance programs available to help customers:

  • The Neighbor For Neighbor Heat Fund offers grants up to $500 year-round. Qualified customers must be aged 55 years or older, disabled, currently receiving unemployment benefits, or are military veterans.
  • Deferred Payment Agreement allows customers to negotiate a repayment plan based on individual financial circumstances.
  • Special Protections is applicable for households where all residents are aged 62 years and up or are 18 years and younger, or are blind or disabled.
  • The NYS Emergency Rental Assistance Program provides rent, utility, and home energy payment assistance for tenant households.
  • Budget Plan billing allows winter payments to be spread out over the whole year, providing stable monthly bills.

Customer assistance is available weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. by contacting 1-800-365-3234.

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