Rhonda Moore Natural gas customers from Elbert and Douglas counties can expect to pay at least 25 percent more for gas this year than they did last …
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Natural gas customers from Elbert and Douglas counties can
expect to pay at least 25 percent more for gas this year than they
did last year.
The increase is the combined result of historically high gas
costs this spring and summer and a completed pipeline that changed
the market for Colorado consumers, said Curt Floerchinger, Black
Hills Energy communications manager for Kansas and Colorado natural
Black Hills Energy, formerly Aquila, stockpiles gas in the
spring and summer, seasons when costs are typically lower,
Floerchinger said. Because of the market fluctuations this year,
however, much of the gas purchased by Black Hills was bought at a
higher level, he said.
Consumers can therefore expect to see the increase in their gas
bills throughout the winter. The cost of natural gas is passed
directly to the consumer without a company markup, Floerchinger
The cost of natural gas accounts for about 75 percent of the
average gas bill, according to the Black Hills Corp. The gas
company makes its profit by charging for the infrastructure — or
pipelines — to move the gas and for the operational costs it incurs
to monitor and deliver the product.
An infrastructure improvement is another factor contributing to
the increase in the cost of natural gas this year, with the
completion of the Rocky Mountain Express Pipeline, Floerchinger
The pipeline opened up the market from Colorado to eastern
states, exposing Colorado consumers to a higher-paying market
competing for the same service.
The result is that Colorado consumers will buy natural gas at a
level more in line with national prices, Floerchinger said. The
pipeline was completed earlier this year and had an almost
immediate effect on natural gas prices for local consumers.
“When the gas was confined to [Colorado] it was a smaller market
and they had no option to sell to other places,” Floerchinger said.
“The only place they could sell was to Colorado. Now, with this
pipeline, the options for selling go elsewhere and causes the price
to become more even with the rest of the country. We’re expecting
it to be 20-30 percent higher this winter than last winter.”
The Black Hills Corp. recommends consumers take control of their
energy costs via a number of energy-saving tips in the household.
In addition to winterizing the house with caulk, insulation,
weather stripping and proper maintenance of the furnace and hot
water heater, consumers are urged to consider the following energy
Adjust the thermostat during the day and night. Set the
thermostat at 68 degrees during the day, and lower it a few degrees
Lower the water heater temperature a few degrees.
Use cold water whenever possible when washing clothes. Many
laundry detergents are designed to remain effective in cold
Check furnace filters monthly and clean or replace filters as
Don’t block heating vents with furniture or clutter.
Caulk and seal around windows and doors.
Add insulation in the home’s attic.
Install a setback thermostat that will automatically lower
temperature settings at night and at other designated times. They
pay for themselves over time.
Customers of Black Hills Energy can manage increased costs
through budget billing, a no-fee option that spreads natural gas
costs out over the year, helping customers avoid large monthly
fluctuations caused by peak usage. Customers can call 888- 890-5554
or visit blackhillsenergy.com for more
information about budget billing. The number also provides other
options for paying the bill.
The earlier in the billing cycle the customer contacts the
company, the more options will be available for payment
arrangements, according to a Black Hills Corp. press release urging
customers to prepare for winter.
Black Hills Energy is a division of Black Hills Corp. and serves
68,000 natural gas customers in 28 Colorado communities, including
Douglas and Elbert counties. For more information visit the Web
site at www.blackhillscorp.com.
New pipeline contributes
Stockpiled at higher prices
Energy-saving steps urged
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