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Berkshire gas customers should see rates drop 4 to 5 percent in their March bills

For some, early cold already has exhausted federal fuel assistance benefits (copy)

Berkshire residents will see their heating bills drop 4 to 5% next month, thanks to a mid-season reduction in gas supply charges from the state's Department of Public Utilities.

BOSTON — Most gas customers in Berkshire County and the rest of the state will see a decrease in their winter gas bills this year.

The state Department of Public Utilities has approved a mid-season reduction in gas supply charges, which, on average, will result in a 4 to 5 percent decrease on the monthly bill for the typical residential heating customer. The reductions in the winter supply rates went into effect Feb. 1 and will be reflected in the utility bills that customers receive in March

For typical residential heating customers of the Berkshire Gas Co., the revised cost of gas adjustment will result in savings of about 6 percent for the November through April time period compared to the originally filed rates, according to company spokesman Christopher Farrell.

“While we have no control over the actual price of natural gas, we do employ aggressive natural gas purchasing strategies throughout the year in an effort to provide our customers with reliable supplies at the best possible price,” Farrell wrote in an email. “If the price of natural gas continues to go down, we will be passing those savings on to our customers, as we have in the past.”

Customers served by Liberty Utilities, Fitchburg Gas and Electric Light Co. (Unitil), Boston Gas Co. (National Grid), and NSTAR Gas Co. (Eversource Energy) can also expect lower winter gas supply rates.

The decreases, which are attributable to changes in the market-based price of natural gas over the course of the winter period, result in a lower gas supply rate.

Rates are typically adjusted on Nov. 1 and May 1, but the Healey administration said Thursday that DPU can require gas companies to revise their gas supply rates (also known as a cost of gas adjustment factor or GAF) “whenever the companies will materially over-or under-collect costs from customers.” And due to dropping market prices for natural gas — the NASDAQ price of natural gas was $5.714 on Nov. 1 and $2.468 on Feb. 1 — Massachusetts gas companies are decreasing supply rates for gas consumed during February, March and April.

Natural gas customers across Massachusetts saw their costs increase about 20 percent when the winter rates went into effect in November.

At the time, the Baker administration was urging Bay Staters to brace for “at best, a very high-cost energy winter” due to the Northeast’s relative overreliance on natural gas (for electricity generation and heating) and the commodity’s sensitivity to global issues like the war in Ukraine and inflation.

“Families and businesses need relief, and our administration is heartened to see a downward trend in natural gas prices,” Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll said.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

State House News Service contributed to this report.

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