BISMARCK, ND (KXNET) — Montana-Dakota Utilities is offering a little light at the end of the inflation tunnel: A projected 30 percent drop in heating costs this winter for its natural gas customers.

MDU projects the average residential customer will pay about $450 for the five-month winter season November through March, or $90 a month. That is down about $200 from last winter, or a decrease of $40 a month. The cost projection is for the commodity only and the outlook assumes average temperatures and no serious supply disruptions.

MDU officials notes the cost of natural gas is a straight passthrough to customers; Montana-Dakota does not earn a profit on the cost of natural gas.

“Market fundamentals are much more favorable going into the 2023-24 winter,” said Scott Madison, executive vice president of gas supply for Montana-Dakota. “National storage is also much improved with inventories about 7 percent higher than the five-year average, and 16 percent higher than this time last year.”

Natural gas prices are subject to monthly changes based on fluctuations in the wholesale market and are approved by various regulatory commissions.

MDU serves roughly 286,4000 natural gas customers in 271 communities across North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.