Extended cold stretch shifts concern from staying warm to how much that costs

Published: Feb. 16, 2021 at 4:09 PM CST
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - As frigid temperatures continue throughout Kansas and the region, concerns for some are shifting from staying warm to how much it will cost to keep warm. Some communities in the state are trying to prepare people for a shock when they open their gas bills for this month.

The price that gas companies are paying for gas has dramatically increased. The question is how much of that will be passed on to customers. For now, that is a tough question to get answered. Eyewitness News reached out to Black Hills Energy and Kansas Gas Service with that question. Both say it’s too early to know how customers will be affected. What we do know, we’re learning form Kansas town like Hesston and Moundridge. Both have taken steps to prepare their residents for a significant increase in what they’ll pay for their next energy bills.

Moundridge distributes natural gas to its residents that it purchases from the Kansas Municipal Gas Agency. Moundridge City Administrator Murray McGee said, according to the agency, the price they pay for a unit of natural gas jumped from $3 per unit last Monday to $329 per unit by Friday.

“We don’t know exactly what the final number is going to look at. We have been told to prepare for gas utility bills that might be 10 to 20 times their normal rate,” McGee said. “So, it could be a significant impact for each individual customer. Of course, it will also be a huge impact for the city of Moundridge.”

To put that in perspective using the figures given to McGee, a customer whose gas bill is typically around $100could expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000 instead. The price paid for units of natural gas is the culprit for the big jump.

Black Hills Energy, which serves eight states across the Midwest, including 115,000 customers in Kansas did say is primary focus has been making sure that people have gas available. But what Kansans will see on their bills is unclear.

“We’re trying to get out as much information as we can to our customers,” said James Williams with Black Hills Energy. “We want to be upfront with the way the situation looks. But there’s still lot of things that are unanswered for us as well.”

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