COLUMBIA — The Missouri Public Service Commission approved AmerenUE's natural gas rate reduction proposal that will take effect on Nov. 1. The proposal will lower a customer's average monthly gas bill by about $6.
Despite the reduction, the monthly winter bills for roughly 39,000 Columbia and Boone County natural gas customers will be on average about $10 higher than they were last winter.
AmerenUE gas customers have been paying $1.10 per 100 cubic feet of natural gas since June 1. The new rate of 99.5 cents per 100 cubic feet of natural gas was approved by the commission. Customers' bills will be prorated from Nov. 1.
The price at which AmerenUE sells its natural gas per 100 cubic feet covers about two-thirds of a customer's monthly bill, AmerenUE spokesman Mike Cleary said.
Wholesale natural gas prices have dropped primarily because demand has declined, said Kerry Cordray, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources' Energy Center.
AmerenUE gas customers paid 89.59 cents per 100 cubic feet of gas during the winter pay period of 2007-08, Cleary said. The pay period runs from November through March.
According to AmerenUE statistics provided by Cleary, the retail price of natural gas has increased by more than 11 percent since November 2007. At 99.5 cents per 100 cubic feet of natural gas, AmerenUE's natural gas price has gone up by almost 25 percent since being set at 71.79 cents on Nov. 1, 2003.
The average monthly bill of an AmerenUE gas customer last winter was about $131, excluding taxes. This winter, the average monthly gas bill will be about $141, Cleary said.
AmerenUE gas customers are expected to pay on average about $707 for this winter's pay period. Last year, they paid on average about $657, Cleary said.
The commission demands the utility submit an annual assessment of the natural gas price it charges customers. Each Nov. 1, the commission sets AmerenUE's natural gas price for the winter.