The U.S. Energy Department recently warned natural gas customers could see a 15-percent in their bills this winter, nationwide, due to a rise in commodity prices.
However, locally, the Metropolitan Utilities District does not anticipate any significant increases for customers. Vice President of Gas Operations, Jim Knight, said there is currently plenty of natural gas in storage for local use. "Gas prices have been pretty much at record lows most of the year. Our October rates were 30-percent lower than our October rates for last year," he said.
"Even with the increase in rates we've seen over the last few weeks, our November gas rates will be about the same as they were last November."
Still, customers like Marilyn McGhee, who lives in Benson, can't help but worry as their furnaces kick in, when they're still catching up on electricity bills from a record hot summer. McGhee, who's not on a level payment plan with O.P.P.D., said she and her husband are still paying off an electricity bill in excess of $1,000.
"What I'm hoping is that we'll have a mild winter again this year," she said.
The Climate Prediction Center, so far, has the metro area at above normal temperatures through December. McGhee would be thrilled if they are correct.
Meantime, she's working to make sure any cracks around her windows or outer walls are sealed.
Knight also recommends checking that insulation is adequate before the weather gets colder and having furnaces inspected to ensure they are running as efficiently as possible. Checking furnace filters once a month to make sure there's no dust build-up, and replacing them if needed, also helps.