Piedmont Natural Gas issues annual winter forecast; advises customers of colder weather, higher bills

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  • Upcoming winter expected to be significantly colder than last year's warmer-than-normal winter period

  • Average residential customer of Piedmont Natural Gas could see increase in monthly bills over the upcoming winter of between $20 to $30 a month

  • Piedmont's wholesale natural gas costs have increased, though still low by historical standards

  • Forecast follows Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Winter Fuels Outlook projecting colder weather and higher household winter heating expenditures for the upcoming winter

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, today issued its annual winter bills forecast for the upcoming winter period.

The forecast covers the period from November through March and applies to residential customers in Piedmont's three-state service area of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tenessee. 

In its forecast, Piedmont notes that the upcoming winter period is likely to be significantly colder than last year's winter, which was approximately 20 percent warmer-than-normal throughout Piedmont's service area. Colder weather typically increases the amount of natural gas that a residential customer consumes.

The forecast follows EIA's recent Winter Fuels Outlook in projecting significantly colder winter weather compared with the previous winter, increased energy consumption, and higher monthly energy costs.

Piedmont's forecast estimates that its average residential customer's monthly natural gas bill will increase by approximately $20 to $30 per month, or from $100 to $150 over the upcoming winter period.

The total winter period bill for Piedmont's average residential customer is expected to range from $430 to $550; the EIA outlook projects average household winter heating fuel expenditures for the Southern region to be approximately $545 for the upcoming winter.

Residential customers could see higher or lower monthly bills than forecast depending on actual winter weather.

In addition to the expectation for a colder winter this year, the forecast also notes that the wholesale cost of natural gas is higher relative to last winter and will contribute to higher monthly natural gas bills for the average residential customer.

Piedmont passes on the wholesale cost of natural gas, which is market-based and can fluctuate up or down, to customers on a dollar-for-dollar basis with no added markup. Even so, Piedmont's wholesale natural gas cost benchmark included in its billing rates remains low by historical standards.

Company website a resource for energy saving tips for customers

For customers who want to learn more about energy saving tips, Piedmont maintains a special section on its website devoted to educating customers about their home's energy usage.

Visiting www.piedmontng.com, could help customers better manage the natural gas they use this winter, along with their monthly bills.

Energy saving tips include steps that are simple to do such as turning the thermostat down a few degrees and making sure windows and doors are properly sealed.

Still other steps, like investing in a programmable thermostat or purchasing higher efficiency natural gas equipment and appliances, may cost a bit more upfront, but will save the customer both energy and money over the life of the equipment.

For customers who want to know how much energy their home or their appliance uses, Piedmont also has several energy calculator tools on its website. The tools provide customers with a way to see what energy their home actually uses and how they can potentially reduce their consumption and better manage their natural gas bills.

Piedmont's "Share the Warmth" program assists others in the community

Piedmont noted in its winter forecast that one of the ways customers can assist those within the community who may need assistance with their energy bills during the upcoming winter is by enrolling in Piedmont's Share the Warmth Round Up Program.

Customers who sign up for the program will have their monthly natural gas bills rounded up to the nearest dollar. The amount rounded up goes to provide emergency energy assistance funds to individuals and families within the communities Piedmont serves, regardless of what energy is used in the home or what time of year the need arises.

For those customers who want to learn more about the Share the Warmth Round Up Program or want to enroll can visit Piedmont's website at www.piedmontng.com.

Piedmont Natural Gas

Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, is an energy services company primarily engaged in the distribution of natural gas to more than 1 million residential, commercial, industrial and power generation customers in portions of North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, including customers served by municipalities who are wholesale customers. Its subsidiaries are invested in joint venture, energy-related businesses, including unregulated retail natural gas marketing, regulated interstate natural gas transportation and storage, and regulated intrastate natural gas transportation businesses. More information about Piedmont Natural Gas is available at www.piedmontng.com.

Headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., Duke Energy is an S&P 100 Stock Index company traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol DUK. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com

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Media Contacts

David Trusty                                         Loree Elswick

Piedmont Natural Gas                           Piedmont Natural Gas

(704) 731-4391                                     (704) 731-4236

david.trusty@duke-energy.com             loree.elswick@duke-energy.com