By The Business Journal of the Greater Triad Area

Piedmont Natural Gas says a typical residential customer could see winter bills drop $4 to $10 per month from last year's level as natural gas prices continue to decline.

Piedmont (NYSE: PNY), a major provider in the Triad, says its residential rates have dropped as much as 30 percent since 2008. If the winter is normal, the total bill for typical customers from March through November could be $100 to $200 less for the 2011-12 winter season than it was for the 2008-09 winter.

⿿The continued decline in the wholesale cost of natural gas, brought about by significant increases in the supply and production of shale natural gas here in the U.S., has provided significant economic benefits to our customers and to the communities we serve,⿝ says Piedmont CEO Tom Skains.

Skains says the company is aware that even with lower rates, some people may not be able to afford heating costs because of the weak economy. He asked customers who can to consider the companyâ¿¿s Share the Warmth Roundup program.

Under that program, customers sign up to allow the company to round their monthly bill up to the nearest dollar. The additional money collected in the program goes to provide emergency assistance for families who struggle to pay heating costs, he says.

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