Sep. 27—Colorado Springs Utilities estimates that rising residential bills may cost about the same as last year, averaging around $374 for a home in coldest months because of the high price of natural gas.
The Colorado Springs City Council was expected to approve rate changes to reflect the high price of natural gas Tuesday amid natural gas price market projections that show prices spiking through January.
Utilities rate hikes will take effect Oct. 1 and will drive up the total average residential bill to about $287 for that month. In the colder months, bills are expected to rise through the winter as residents use more natural gas.
Last year, Colorado Springs saw similarly high prices because Utilities was still paying off a huge three-day spike in natural gas prices in February 2021 that required Colorado Springs Utilities to pay millions more than anticipated. The price hike pushed natural gas up from $2.50 to nearly $200 per dekatherm — the equivalent of 1,000 cubic feet of gas.
The deep freeze is now paid off, but prices are still up because of the global demand for natural gas that is expected to push prices up to $10 per dekatherm, said Tristan Gearhart, chief planning and finance officer for Utilities. Last year, natural gas prices were averaging around $4.50 to $5 per dekatherm, he said.
Prices have been high because Russia has cut off significant supplies of natural gas to Europe pushing up the price globally. Production in the U.S. has also been lower in recent years, with less production from wells on federal lands, he said.
The closure of coal operations at Martin Drake Power Plant is not a driving factor for high residential bills. Natural gas prices would have to rise above $13 per dekatherm for years to economically justify keeping Drake open, Gearhart said.
Those who need help with bills they cannot afford can call the Pikes Peak United Way at 211.
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