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Utah natural gas rates lowest in U.S.

SALT LAKE CITY — Natural gas rates in Utah are the lowest in the continental U.S.

According to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Questar Gas customers pay the lowest rates in the "lower 48" at $8.98 per Mcf (thousand cubic feet).

Colorado and Minnesota had slightly higher rates at just over $9 per thousand cubic feet, while Georgia and Florida had the highest rates at around $20 per thousand cubic feet.

As for how those rates will impact the average household heating bill this winter, barring an unforeseen "deep freeze," heating your home will cost about the same as last year, according to Questar Gas Senior Vice President Craig Wagstaff.

He said the supply of natural gas is plentiful at this time, which should result in generally stable pricing for customers.

"We see bills being very similar to what they were last year," he said. "We don't foresee any substantial increases at this point."

With the abundant supply, "that should carry us through the winter," he added.

In Utah this year, the average residential customer is estimated to pay about $681 annually for natural gas — slightly below the $703 a typical customer paid last year. Natural gas prices were at their lowest in recent history in '09 when the average annual cost was $657. That was contrary to the previous year when natural gas costs peaked at $774 for the average household.

Questar Gas serves about 915,000 customers in Utah, Idaho and Wyoming.

The average annual costs for the typical customers using natural gas — past five years:

$681 - 2011

$703 - 2010

$657 - 2009

$774 - 2008

$722 - 2007

E-mail: jlee@desnews.com