New Jersey natural-gas customers can expect a price break this winter, the latest reduction in energy costs that have cut one utility's bills by more than half since 2009.
Public Service Electric & Gas Co. on Wednesday proposed to reduce residential gas bills by 7.4 percent, saving customers $64 per year. South Jersey Gas proposed reductions of 3.7 percent, or $4.39, to monthly residential gas bills.
The proposed rate reductions, which would go into effect Oct. 1, were made in annual filings Wednesday with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, the state regulatory body.
The price reductions are ascribed to lower natural-gas prices caused by new production from domestic shale-gas formations, which are hydraulically fractured. Fracking has increased supplies of oil and gas and pushed down the costs for many forms of energy, including motor fuels and electricity.
"As a result, annual customer bills today are, on average, at their lowest levels in 15 years," said Jeffrey E. DuBois, president of South Jersey Gas.
PSE&G said its residential bills, including the proposed reduction, have decreased by 51 percent since 2009, saving a typical residential home-heating customer $854 a year.
South Jersey Gas said its price cuts were offset to allow it to recover revenue lost last winter because of the mild weather. New Jersey utilities are allowed to "normalize" their rates down or up annually to account for weather-related changes to consumption.
Utilities are not allowed to profit from fuel costs.
The rate reductions are separate from onetime credits both utilities gave their customers last winter because of lower commodity prices. PSE&G gave $152 million in credits last year, and South Jersey Gas issued $20 million in credits in January 2016, an average of $58 a household.