Well, brace yourself, Colorado Springs Utilities (Springs Utilities) is forecasting continued volatile natural gas prices this year.
Utilities officials were to hold a news briefing today to warn people that spikes in natural gas prices are expected this winter due to a lag in production, soaring demand resulting from international conflicts (read, the war in Ukraine), lower than average natural gas storage and the like.
"Greater demand and limited supplies for natural gas around the world have increased the cost to generate electricity and heat homes and businesses," Utilities said in a release, which did not estimate how high prices are expected to go.
"Changes to natural gas prices impact customers more in winter because most customers use natural gas for heating. Changing weather trends could impact bills too, as can efficiency of appliances, conservation efforts and home weatherization."
Utilities is ratepayer owned, and any changes in fuel costs are passed on to customers, usually four times per year.
"While it is possible electric and natural gas rates stay steady or even decrease this fall, bills this winter are expected to be high," the release said.
Utilities suggests these steps to minimize the impact:
- Weather strip doors and windows to reduce the amount of air loss from your home.
Change your furnace filter every 30 days and schedule a qualified contractor to perform an annual check-up.
During winter, set your thermostat no higher than 68 degrees when home and 60 degrees when away or sleeping. Utilities offers a $50 rebate for installing ENERGY STAR smart thermostats.
"To protect customers from these changes in the market, Springs Utilities buys natural gas at lower rates when demand isn’t as high and uses other long-range tools to lock in a portion of supply at lower prices," Utilities said. The city-owned utility has an underground storage area for gas, but it's unclear how much of a supply can be held there.
Utilities suggests customers investigate ways to offset the spike, including budget billing and assistance through COPE and LEAP programs.