PEA RIDGE, Arkansas (KFSM) — Black Hills Energy said Wednesday (Feb. 24) that natural gas customers might see an increase in their bills this March due to the rise in consumption of energy during last week’s historic winter storm.
The company says that usage is the single largest portion of energy bills, and the weather is the biggest factor in increased usage.
When temperatures drop exceptionally as they did in February across the country, the law of supply and demand created a temporary increase in commodity prices for utility companies. Many utility companies were left searching for more resources to get natural gas to their customers.
“As the extreme cold set in and widespread customer energy use increased, our teams continued to deliver the most cost-effectively priced energy available,” said Chad Kinsley, vice president of gas operations for Black Hills Energy in Arkansas.
Black Hills Energy says the possible rise in customers’ bills in March is tied to increased consumption and not related to the increased natural gas prices utility companies faced from suppliers during the winter event. The natural gas customers’ fuel use is passed on to them at cost.
Black Hills Energy customers in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, experienced an outage during the winter storm where temperatures at times dropped below 0 degrees. The cold snap caused an uptick in demand in Pea Ridge, and the Black Hills Energy system in the city did not have the capacity to handle the demand. The company is working on expanding its system in Pea Ridge to avoid another possible distribution to service during an extreme weather event as the city grows.
“While we did experience an outage in Pea Ridge, our planned upgrades to the system that serves that area will accommodate capacity needs in the future,” Kinsley said.
Blacks Hills Energy says its gas supply teams will continue to prepare for abnormal demand and price changes to natural gas to minimize its customers’ financial impact by implementing a portfolio of gas purchase options.
They say the recent weather event caused the largest natural gas price increases in the last twenty years.
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