Natural gas prices in Omaha metro cause high heating bills

WOWT 6 News Live at 6:30
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 6:16 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - When the polar vortex created record freezing in Texas a year ago, the energy industry shifted into a mad scramble.

Natural gas prices skyrocketed. The volatility, while better, still packs a punch on the pocketbook.

Edwin Saldivar noticed when he opened his M.U.D. bill.

“A lot of people will have a problem that. It’s a necessity. It’s just something we’ll have to deal with,” said Saldivar.

The same for the Richey family.

“I got the bill in the mail and it was like an extra $80,” said Terrell Richey.

Last fall, Nebraska and Iowa energy put out a warning telling customers to expect big increases in natural gas prices this winter. And that’s what we’re seeing now.

Here’s a perspective from Black Hills Energy.

“When the polar vortex hit last February - we had to purchase gas for our customers at extremely high prices and worked with the public service commission to pay those costs to the public over three years to try to reduce the impact best we could,” said Brandy Johnson with Black Hills Energy Communications.

Mid-American Energy officials say Iowa residential gas bills in November rose 56% and in December 106%.

M.U.D. officials say it’s doing what it can to offer ways for customers to reduce the bill. From conserving energy to applying for assistance to budget-balancing where the higher cost of winter is spread through the entire year’s bill.

“A lot of our customers are experiencing around the 30% mark as far as the gas price itself. The price we can’t control. That’s based on economics -- supply and demand. Right now in North America, supply is up 2% -- but demand is up 10%. That continues to drive some of the volatility,” said Stephanie Mueller, M.U.D. VP of Communications.

Within a couple of weeks of warmth in the forecast, that can only help limit the damage to our budgets.

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