Salem, OR. Oregon Public Utility Commissioners were told that natural gas users in Oregon should expect to see little difference in the price they pay for natural gas this coming winter. The message was delivered during the Commission’s annual Natural Gas Price Outlook meeting in Salem yesterday.
“Demand for gas is soft due to the weak economy while there is an abundance of natural gas to buy. As a result prices are relatively unchanged from a year ago. This is good news for households and businesses struggling in this weak economic recovery,” said Commission gas analyst Ken Zimmerman.
NW Natural, which serves northwest Oregon, told the Commissioners prices paid by their customers could fall by about 2 percent.
Avista Utilities predicted their gas rates will remain flat. Avista serves portions of southwest and northeastern Oregon.
A Cascade Natural Gas representative said their prices will also likely remain unchanged. Cascade Natural Gas serves the Bend region in Central Oregon and parts of northeast Oregon.
The Commission will have more information about future rates in late August when the companies make their annual filings to update gas costs. Customer rates will change in November.
The Commission heard that the demand for natural gas, especially in the industrial sector, such as paper and wood products, has yet to rebound from the effects of the recession. The supply of gas also remains strong with the recent discoveries of shale gas deposits in the U.S. and the development of new drilling technologies.
Roughly 757,000 Oregon customers receive natural gas from one of the three companies.
Oregon imports its natural gas through pipelines from gas fields in Canada and the Rocky Mountain region.