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Record High Natural Gas Utility Bills

EMU?Trustees Offer Assistance To Customers

By Jane Whitmore - | Mar 4, 2021

by Jane Whitmore

The impact of five days in February with sub-zero temperatures will be reflected on Emmetsburg Municipal Utility bills this month. Trustees of Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities assure customers they are there to help share the financial burden.

Customers of Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities will see a dramatic increase in the natural gas portion of their billing when they receive statements next week. Recognizing the spike in natural gas billing, the five-member Board of Trustees voted unanimously to assist the citizens of the community.

Seeing the financial burden it would cause to pass the entire cost to the customer, EMU Trustees made the decision to pay for 50% of the billing increase caused by the five-day price surge on spot gas.

“One of the benefits of having a local, community-owned utility is the ability and willingness to provide assistance to its customers and reinvest back into the community,” said City Administrator and EMU Superintendent Kim Kibbie.

“Thanks to the work of previous trustees and previous, and present, administrations, administrators and employees, we have a very financially sound utility, particularly the gas utility,”added Kirk Haack, Chairman of Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities Board of Trustees. “We just think it’s appropriate that, in an extraordinary event like this, we use some of those funds that we put away to help our citizens during this time of crisis.”

Emmetsburg Municipal Utilities will use $463,099.11 of its cash reserves to subsidize customers’ bills and protect them from significantly higher gas bills.

The accompanying graph illustrates the billing increase caused by the February polar vortex and the amount an average residential customer can expect to pay for the natural gas portion of their bill after EMU’s 50% spot gas subsidy.

How Did This Happen?

Events leading up to this dramatic increase in the cost of natural gas cost were outlined by City Administrator Kibbie, and EMU Trustees Chairman Haack.

Unusually cold temperatures in from approximately Feb. 13 through Feb. 17 dramatically impacted the natural energy market. Frigid temperatures across the country not only caused remarkably high demand for natural gas, but also resulted in a sudden decrease in natural gas production due to frozen natural gas wells in the south. This combination caused extreme challenges and historic gas spikes across the county.

“The chain of events created a reduction in production of natural gas,” said Kibbie. “We work closely with Clayton Energy, an energy supplier and consultant for municipal utilities, to purchase gas from Northern Natural Gas and deliver it to the customer.”

Bill Lindley, President of Clayton Energy, explained that while polar vortex events have occurred before, the impacts of this event were unprecedented and unexpected.

Read the full article in The Democrat.