Although customers of National Fuel will experience a slight increase in heating costs this winter, they will still find costs significantly lower than previous years.
According to the National Fuel Gas Distribution Corporation, or National Fuel, the projected monthly heating cost for an average residential customer this winter is $714, a continuation of a four-year trend of low costs, stemming mostly from balmier winters - the last two winters were 22 percent and 6 percent warmer than normal respectively - and the abundance of natural gas production.
"The last two winters (in Western New York) were an anomaly," said Karen L. Merkel, director of corporate communications at National Fuel. "They were warmer than usual (and customers used less heat)."
In the past four winters, heating costs remained below $1,000. This, compared to years prior, in which costs averaged above $1,000, peaking in 2005-06 at $1,246.
While Merkel warns that weather patterns can easily change, she insists that heating costs will remain low regardless, mostly because of the burgeoning supply of shale-produced gas.
"The abundance of (shale-produced gas) has significantly lowered transportation (and delivery) costs," Merkel said. "(This translates) to lower costs for our customers."
In 2012, nearly one-third of natural gas supply came from shale gas. By 2035, it is projected to be half of the natural gas supply.
As a result, gas production is expected to set new records this year, according to the American Gas Association and the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
While the production of shale is not permitted in New York state, National Fuel is confident that production based in Pennsylvania will continue to provide a steady and reliable supply to Western New York.