DES MOINES, Iowa — MidAmerican Energy customers can expect to pay more on their heating bills this winter.
The company says it is due in part to natural gas prices more than doubling from this time last year as well as limited production and inventory.
While MidAmerican isn't seeing signs of supply challenges this winter, according to a release, they do expect to see higher customer bills due to the increasing costs of natural gas.
“We don’t mark up what we pay for natural gas, rather the cost of the commodity is a straight pass-through to customers. We purchase a portion of gas in advance at the best possible price, and in warmer months, when gas is generally cheaper, we store it for use in winter to help protect our customers financially," Peggi Allenback, MidAmerican vice president of market operations and supply, said in a statement. "Despite these efforts, though, we want our customers to understand that natural gas bills will still be higher this heating season.”
So, how will this impact customers' wallets? MidAmerican says it will affect their gas supply charge, which is the cost of the natural gas that a customer uses.
Market price fluctuations do not impact rates, which includes fixed administrative costs and costs associated with maintaining infrastructure and ensuring safety.
Bill impacts will vary by the customer due to usage as temps get colder and market prices continue to fluctuate.
However, based on market prices over the last month, residential customers can expect their total bills to increase by 46-96% during the November-March heating season.
What about the February payback period?
A polar vortex that happened in February "resulted in a dramatic natural gas price spike and higher customer bills," according to MidAmerican. To help reduce the financial impact of customers, MidAmerican worked with state regulators to spread those costs out over a longer period of time.
Those costs will continue to be part of customer gas supply charges for the next several months. Specifically in Iowa, customers will be paying back costs through April 2022.
Financial resources for customers
Budget billing program
Customers can utilize this free program to stabilize utility charges that vary by changing seasons and different energy usage patterns, according to MidAmerican.
Customers can enroll by calling 888-427-5632 or through My Account.
Once enrolled, a customer's bill is reconciled periodically to make sure payments are on track with their actual use.
Another option for customers needing assistance is the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
This is only for customers in Iowa.
MidAmerican also offers its own bill payment assistance program called I CARE, which is managed by community action agencies in its service area.
The program allows people to help local community action agencies provide heating bill assistance and home weatherization to customers in need.
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