CU: Higher Natural Gas Prices to Blame for Spike in Customer’s Bill

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Some City Utilities customers are left scratching their heads when reading their bills. The average temperature for this January was 49.3 degrees and last January was 44.3 degrees, so why is there a spike in costs?

A KOLR10 employee shared their City Utilities bill with us. The employee paid $167 last January for 318 therms, which is the unit of measurement CU uses for natural gas. This January the employee is charged $225 for only 251 therms.

That means the customer paid $58 more but used 67 fewer therms of natural gas. CU said it comes down to two reasons.

“I usually keep my utilities pretty low but this month’s seemed pretty high for what I keep it at. I usually keep it at 70 and it was still pretty outrageous,” said Samuel Auxier.

Auxier said his CU bill was almost $250 this month.

“It’s been warmer so I really turn off my heat and don’t keep anything on. I guess I live in a little bit of an older house but I fee like it should be a lot cheaper than what it is,” Auxier said.

Auxier said the cost of natural gas was a lot higher this month and CU director of pricing and forecasting Ray Ross said that’s only one of the reasons for the higher utility bills.

“The natural gas that CU bought for the month of January was about $30 more expensive than previous January. Our customers for January used about 10 percent more and you combine those things together and you get the higher bills that some customers are seeing,” Ross said.

Ross said it’s important to note last years natural gas cost was among the lowest it’s been in the last ten years but he said this year is still moderate in comparison.

“This winter got off to a little bit stronger start, off to a much stronger start in other parts of the country and that has increased our additional demand which has increased the price of natural gas that CU has to pay. CU has to pass that price directly on to customers so the price is a bit higher,” said Ross.

Customers are charged a flat monthly rate for the delivery of gas and Ross said the only variation comes from the price of natural gas.

“CU works to have a diverse portfolio of buying natural gas. We wind up doing a good job with that. There’s not much you can do with a general market trend where the prices are higher,” Ross said.

Ross said the outlook for natural gas is strong. He said there’s plenty of supplies available so he expects prices to go down in the future.

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