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City of Gallatin anticipates higher heating and natural gas bills this winter
Posted By On September 27, 2000 @ 8:00 am In Headline News | No Comments
by Mayor L.B. Davis
by Mayor L.B. Davis
Several published sources indicate that consumers throughout the Untied States will likely experience higher bills for natural gas and other heating sources this winter than in recent years. The City of Gallatin wants to provide its customers with ample warning that the cost of natural gas has been rising since late last spring, and users everywhere are likely to face higher home heating bills this winter.
Market prices for natural gas have risen during the summer, along with prices for gasoline, electricity, oil, propane, and other energy sources, but the impact will be felt most strongly this winter when customers resume heating. Many gas systems are forecasting price increases of 30 to 100 percent. The City of Gallatin expects residential prices to be about 50 percent higher than last year. But if cold weather happens, gas bills could rise even more.
“We are not happy to bring this news,” Gallatin Mayor L. B. Davis said, “but we want our customers to have ample time to take the energy conservation steps necessary to ease the burden of higher energy prices. In addition, we have contracted in advance for the purchase of natural gas over the winter months so that our customers can count on a more stable price during the upcoming months.”
Three main reasons natural gas bills are likely to be higher this winter include:
1. While everyone has welcomed the many benefits of a booming national economy, the increased demand for all forms of electricity has stretched both the business and industrial sectors to their limits. The sharply higher prices for gasoline and electricity this summer were a reflection of this trend. Market prices for natural gas more than doubled during the summer from what they were a year ago.
2. Because in comparison with other energy sources natural gas is both inexpensive and environmentally friendly, more and more gas is being used to generate electrical power. This has changed the traditional seasonal pattern of demand. Instead of typically seeing high demand for natural gas for heating in the winter and a drop-off in the summer, demand is now high in the summer, as well, because people are running their air conditioners on electricity fueled by natural gas.
3. As a result of this change in summer usage, the summer storage stocks ran low, and market prices rose accordingly.
Complicating the supply and demand picture is the fact that natural gas prices have been low and temperatures have been milder than normal for the last three winters. There has been little incentive for the gas producers to build up larger gas inventories. It is expected that increased natural gas drilling will bring up inventories and bring down prices, but not until after the coming winter.
Meanwhile, there are some things that consumers can do to prepare for higher home heating bills:
1. Weatherize your home. For improved energy efficiency, check your insulation, windows, weather-stripping, and caulking. Contact City Hall for an extensive list of home weatherization tips.
2. Consider replacing old furnaces and appliances with energy-efficient ones. The City is indefinitely extending its incentive/rebate program for furnace and water heater conversions. Contact City Hall for additional details.
3. Consider putting aside savings or enroll in a budget billing program before the winter. The City is re-opening the sign-up period for its level-payment utility billing program. Contact City Hall for additional details.
Any customers who expect to face financial difficulties over the increased costs of heating this winter are encouraged to contact City Hall at 663-2011 right away for help in working out solutions in advance.
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