While rising gas and oil prices, along with concerns about rising inflation in general, have captured all of the media headlines recently, the price of residential natural gas has quietly fallen to a seven-year nominal low, and an eight-year real low in December 2010. I couldn't find a single news story about this, demonstrating once again that "bad news sells" and good news is often ignored and overlooked. You heard it here first.
Click to enlarge chart
The chart above shows monthly, inflation-adjusted prices for U.S. natural gas delivered to residential customers (data here, prices are in 2010 dollars). The price of natural gas in December 2010, at $9.86 per 1,000 cubic feet, was the lowest price in almost eight years. You have to go all the way back to January 2004 to find a lower inflation-adjusted price for residential natural gas.
The below chart shows monthly prices for natural gas sold to commercial consumers (data here). For those customers real natural gas prices are even lower today in inflation-adjusted dollars than for residential customers. The December 2010 price of $8.54 per 1,000 cubic feet was the lowest inflation-adjusted price since November 2002, more than nine years ago.