Expect lower natural gas bills this summer from Springfield’s City Utilities

Published: Mar. 31, 2023 at 6:33 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - It seems like just about everything is costing more these days so here’s at least one piece of good news.

If you live in Springfield, your natural gas bill from City Utilities should be going down this summer.

The public utility made the announcement following a CU Board Meeting on Thursday.

According to the announcement City Utilities is continuing to closely monitor market pricing for natural gas and preparing for next winter. Current market indicators show prices returning to near $2.00 per million Btu (MMBtu), where market prices one-year ago were near $6.00 per MMBtu.

As they often do CU will begin purchasing and injecting natural gas into storage for the high-usage times in 2023-2024 (usually the winter) by purchasing natural gas during the off-season when prices are lower. So customers will see the lower market prices reflected in lower natural gas bills.

Those lower bills are not only due to the lower market price for natural gas but also because of the two-year cost recovery factor for Winter Storm Uri.

It was in February, 2021 that the winter storm caused widespread impacts all across the country and the Southwest Power Pool, a group of power-generating utilities in 14 states including City Utilities, ordered rolling black-outs because of the unprecedented effect on the power grid.

“During winter storm Uri gas prices got extremely high,” explained Brent Baker, CU Vice President and Chief Customer Officer. “In Springfield what we were able to do was spread those costs out over a two-year period instead of a six-month period. So we’ve now reached the end of that two-year period and are now able to roll those costs off. Now we’re back to our normal fuel adjustment which we do twice a year. So this summer customers will see a 27 percent decrease in their bills, which is about a $10 decrease.”

Individual customer bills will vary based on the actual amount of natural gas used.

Eric Wood, who’s been a CU customer for 12 years, didn’t know about the news until he was at CU’s downtown offices on Friday.

“I’m on a fixed income so it really affects me,” he said. “I am completely surprised and happy of course. Natural gas went way, way up just a couple of years ago so now if it’s going down that’s a good thing. But I still feel like we’re getting gouged.”

Baker pointed out that what CU pays to get the natural gas is the same amount they charge to their customers.

“Most of our customers don’t necessarily understand that our fuel costs are a pass-through,” he said. “What we purchase is what we pass through to the customer and there’s no mark up. So what we look for is to find the lowest possible cost so that customers get the lowest possible impact on their bill.”

Just like electricity, CU can purchase natural gas from several different sources at different prices. However, inflation is just as prevalent in the business world as it is the lives of the general population.

“All pieces of energy tend to go up in cost over time and it’s actually been very volatile recently,” Baker said. “Since 2021 we’ve had some energy shortages in the United States as well as the European issues with the Ukraine-Russia invasion. So that has been something that has really caused an impact on all the global energy markets.”

Speaking of inflation CU is in the process of raising water and sewer rates over the coming years. But at least for now your natural gas bills will go down.

“I’m not gonna knock it,” Wood said with a laugh. “I wish it was more. Maybe someday it will be.”

CU electric residential customers this summer can expect to pay approximately the same amount for electric service as the previous six months.

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