Pittsburgh—the Steel City. With its mineral-rich roots, Pittsburgh was born to be a city skilled in manufacturing. Pittsburgh built itself up industries of steel, aluminum, glass, petroleum, and these days, software engineering, robotics, energy research, and cyber defense. White-collar or blue-collar, Pittsburgh simply has hard workers. And with a population of 305,000, it's Pennsylvania's second-largest city and the 27th-largest in the United States.
The cost of natural gas in Pittsburgh is something to consider as part of your overall living costs.
Whether you're new to the City of Bridges or just shopping around, Pennsylvania has made the process of searching for natural gas providers a streamlined experience with the aid of helpful online resources and tools, narrowing down what plans and prices are available to your area.
In 1997, the state of Pennsylvania deregulated its energy market, which of course includes Pittsburgh. For you—the consumer—this means you're able to choose from a slew of providers instead of relying on just one who does the selling and delivering of your energy. When you choose your natural gas provider, you'll have the pick of price, length of term, renewable energy options, and other choices and incentives.
Natural Gas Distributors Versus Natural Gas Suppliers
When shopping for natural gas suppliers for your Pittsburgh residence, industry, or commercial business, you'll notice that there are two categories of natural gas providers: distributors and suppliers. Natural gas distributors are responsible for delivering your actual energy to your home.
Here's a list of Pennsylvania's natural gas distributors:
- Columbia Gas of PA., Inc.
- National Fuel Gas
- PECO Gas
- Peoples TWP
- UGI Penn Natural Gas
- Peoples Natural Gas
- UGI Penn Natural Gas
- Philadelphia Gas Works
- UGI Utilities
- Peoples Natural Gas-Equitable Division
Natural Gas Distribution Companies (NGDCs) are utility companies that serve natural gas consumers throughout Pittsburgh and the surrounding state of Pennsylvania.
They sell natural gas at their prescribed cost, although NGDCs are prohibited from profiting off the gas commodity. NGDCs also charge a distribution fee for delivering the gas through their pipes, which are the gas lines that run beneath the streets to deliver the gas directly to your home. If the gas line should require metering and maintenance, the NGDC would be responsible for the upkeep and repairs.
Shopping for Natural Gas Suppliers
It's important that you know who your natural gas distributor is before you can shop for a supplier. You can find this information on your current natural gas bill.
Natural gas suppliers are the ones that sell you the energy. You'll also learn that suppliers must stay competitive. It's always a good idea to frequently check the cost of natural gas to make sure you're getting the best pricing from suppliers available. Suppliers will often offer incentives and reward programs to their customers to enable them to stay competitive in the market.
When you shop for a natural gas supplier, you can online and search by your zip code, selecting your current natural gas distributor to see and filter your options. To see a full list of suppliers, visit the website of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PA PUC). For example, if you live in Pittsburgh zip code 15106 and your natural gas distributor is Columbia Gas of PA., Inc., you can select from a number of these suppliers and their plans:
- WGL Energy Services, which at the time of writing was at $0.28 per therm.* WGL Energy Services calculates to be about $21.00 per month with zero cancellation fees, monthly fees, and no enforced term lengths. The price structure is variable.
- nTherm LLC offers a plan with a variable rate structure at $0.289 per therm, estimating to be $21.67 per month, and no monthly fees, term length, or cancellation fees are imposed.
- Direct Energy offers the lowest fixed price for this particular zip code and distributor in Pittsburgh at $0.309 per therm, estimating to be $23.18 per month. There are no monthly fees or cancellation fees. The term length is 15 months.
If you had a different natural gas distributor, you'd see different results, even if you lived in the same zip code. For example, if your natural gas distributor was instead Peoples Natural Gas and not Columbia Gas of PA., Inc, you would see these suppliers and plans:
- Pennsylvania Energy currently offers the lowest plan at $1.99 per Mcf, estimating to be $13.93 per month with a term length of 3 months and zero monthly and cancellation fees.
- Pennsylvania Energy offers a fixed pricing plan at $2.59 per Mcf, which is about $18.13 per month on a 12-month term. The plan is without monthly fees or cancellation penalties.
- Indra Energy offers a variable plan at $2.20 per Mcf, about $15.40 per month, without a term length, monthly fees, or cancellation penalties.
In other Pittsburgh zip codes, pricing will be similar. In zip code 15239 with Peoples Natural Gas as the distributor, these natural gas suppliers are available:
- Pennsylvania Energy offers a variable plan at $1.99 per Mcf, which is about $13.93 per month at its 3-month term length, with no monthly or cancellation fees.
- Dominion Energy Solutions offers a fixed, 24-month plan for $2.96 per Mcf, estimating to be $20.72 per month, with no monthly or cancellation fees.
- Agway Energy Services offers a variable, no-term plan at $2.79 per Mcf, $19.53 per month with no monthly or cancellation fees.
What's In a Plan: Understanding the Variables in Your Natural Gas Suppliers' Plans
The variables that come into effect for the plans you see listed by natural gas suppliers have much to do with where you live in Pittsburgh, your current natural gas distributor (again, this is information you can call and ask about or check on your natural gas bill, comparing the name to those listed beneath natural gas distributors above), and how much you estimate your monthly usage is.
When shopping for a plan appropriate for your natural gas usage, it's also essential to determine whether or not you'll want a plan that offers a fixed price or a variable price, both of which we've touched on.
You'll notice that variable price plans are often cheaper by comparison, but those prices can change.
These prices are based on market prices, and if the market sees an increase or a decrease, your pricing will follow suit. That's good news: if the price drops, your cost will also dip, saving you money.
However, it doesn't protect you from market volatility if the pricing should increase.
A fixed price does offer protection against market fluctuations. This pricing remains consistent for the term of your contract or for at least three billing cycles (whichever is the longest). A fixed price allows you to trust in your budget, but you won't get the benefit if the market prices drop—you'll have to wait until your contract ends to enjoy lower pricing. On the upside, you're protected against increases.
Finding the Best Natural Gas Provider in Pittsburgh
It's not difficult to find the best natural gas provider in Pittsburgh. Numerous online search engines (including Finance Guru's) make the task easy and more streamlined than ever before. What's difficult is remembering to keep checking because you can always switch to get the best pricing and plan suited for you.
*Note that all prices/rates are subject to change, and the costs listed here are not a guarantee of current prices/rates from any supplier or distributor.