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Pandemic partially to blame for higher natural gas prices

Published: Mar. 29, 2022 at 10:18 PM CDT
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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) – Minnesota Energy Resouces have warned customers since October that their natural gas bill could be higher between November and March.

“In part because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, companies that use a lot of natural gas were ramping up production. So they’re using a lot more natural gas than there was available at the time and so that’s what’s really driving this increase,” said Alison Trouy, Minnesota Energy Resources Spokesperson.

She said on average customers’ bills have been around $44 more than in the previous year.

“After hurricane Ida, you may remember that hit the Gulf Coast in the fall and that was a contributing factor as well,” Trouy said.

She anticipates bills to come back down once people use less heat.

“Now hopefully as the weather starts to get warmer. Folks will be using their furnaces less often, so their natural gas might start to decrease. Again depending on usage and depending on how the weather is,” Trouy said.

She said customers who need help paying energy bills can get energy assistance, that’s administered through the Minnesota Department of Commerce.

“They have been saying more people are eligible than ever before,” Trouy said. “Customers can get up to $1600 to pay their energy bills. So it’s a great resource.”

She said it’s hard to tell natural gas prices will be high next winter.

“We do not earn a profit on natural gas. It’s a pass-through expense, so what we pay is the price our customers pay,” Trouy said. “So if natural gas producers start producing more natural gas, those prices might start to even out.”

Ways to lower your bill is by lowering your thermostat, opening blinds on sunny days, and making sure you don’t have any air leaks in your windows or doorways.

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