-- "Craig Schwartz's heating bill tells the story of a natural gas industry upheaval that's rippling through North Carolina. First, take a look at Schwartz's natural gas bill for December: $73.69. Then look at December 2010, just a year before. The Raleigh computer scientist paid nearly twice as much: $134.14. Now spread those numbers out over several months, and quite likely years.
"That's huge," Schwartz said. "I'll take $200 to $300 bucks a year in natural gas savings, no problem."
It's a familiar scenario for the 35 percent of state households that heat and cook with natural gas. Natural gas prices have been in a freefall as electricity prices are pushing upward, prompting some residents to make retrofits so they can switch to natural gas to heat their homes this winter. The state's two biggest natural gas utilities - Piedmont Natural Gas and PSNC Energy - are both planning rate cuts next month in response to the falling global price of natural gas.
Historically low natural gas prices, resulting from a glut in global reserves, have caused home heating bills to plummet to levels not seen in a decade. Experts anticipate the prices dropping further before they self-correct, with expectations that a long-term surplus could keep prices cheap for years.
"Natural gas is a foundational fuel for the economy. It's plentiful. It's here. And it's cheap," said Thomas Skains, CEO of Charlotte-based Piedmont Natural Gas."