My August natural gas bill arrived the other day and I noticed it was about 13% higher than normal for this time of the year. I primarily use natural gas to heat my home. Typically during the summer, my usage is at its lowest. I live in Minnesota, where Winters are always cold. Last month, there was a $14.48 Interim rate refund on my gas bill. This refund was because the last rate increase was approved for less than they estimated. So, they were returning money I had previously sent them. Now, one month later, they add a “Feb. 2021 Weather Event charge” to the bill. What is a “Feb. 2021 Weather Event” ? Last Winter in Minnesota it didn’t get any colder than usual. Actually, it was mild, by Minnesota standards. The explanation included with the bill says: In mid-Feb, large parts of the country experienced an extended period of extremely cold temperatures, and demand for natural gas became higher than normal. This event resulted in unusually high natural gas costs.
The explanation goes on to say that they have received approval to begin recovering these costs from customers over a 27 month period from Sep. 2021 – Nov. 2023! A one day spike in the price of natural gas, and now we all have a fee added to our gas bill for the next two years? This is ridiculous to say the least. I imagine some commodities traders got rich when the price of NG went as high as the price of gold in one day. In Oklahoma, Oneok Gas Transmission (OGT) NG reached what might be the highest natural gas price at any natural gas hub in history at an average of $1,192/MMBtu on February 17, according to NGI data. By comparison, the spot price at OGT was $2.91/MMBtu during the first week of February. With climate change and another cold winter predicted for the Midwest, who’s to say that another NG price spike won’t happen again this Winter or the next?