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Home gas bills to drop $17 this winter

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Home gas bills to drop $17 this winter

Levi Hill/News-Sun

Lea County residents will be happy to know their home heating bills should drop by an average of $17 per month this winter.

The 24 percent decrease in winter heating bills this year is due to a warmer 2022-23 winter and increased natural gas production over the summer.

Natural gas production averaged 104.1 billion cubic feet per day in October, compared to 102.6 bcfd in September and a record high of 103.1 bcfd in July.

Natural gas prices plunged over the summer due to reduced demand from a warmer than normal winter last year that dropped prices by nearly $4 per mcf to $3.22/mcf (million cubic feet) from December 2022 to January 2023.

However, prices could climb next year following recent price climbs. Natural gas prices have posted gains in four of the last five months climbing 22 percent in October.

However, Zia Natural Gas, which serves Lea County, purchased fuel for this winter at a cost of just under 66 cents per ccf (100 cubic feet), down from last year’s price of $1.0798/ccf.

Gas companies negotiate new contracts annually to eliminate the fluctuation of natural gas prices as it is being traded on a daily basis.

Gas companies are also not allowed to charge a mark-up on the cost of natural gas and must pass the cost directly on to customers.

Oscar Saucedo, business development manager for Zia, said the new price went into effect Oct. 1.

“Every time we have do an adjustment for the customers, we have to make it public,” he said.

Under the new rate, the average bill for Lea County customers should drop around $17 per month from $70.71 to $53.64.

He said the company is urging customers to winterize their homes and lower their thermostats this winter.

“You can save as much as 10 percent on your heating costs by lowering your thermostat 10 degrees for just 8 hours a day while at work or sleep,” a ZNG news release reads.

There are winterizing guides available at the Zia Natural Gas website: zngc.com.

For customers who do need help with winter heating bills, assistance is available through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) at your local New Mexico Human Services Division office.

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