Fulton asks residents to conserve energy in aftermath of massive winter freeze
FULTON, Mo. (KMIZ)
The City of Fulton is asking its residents to conserve energy amid massive demand for electricity and natural gas and memories of last year's skyrocketing prices.
The City said in a statement over the weekend that the cost of electricity on the open market has increased by about 2,000% and the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline gas company has asked all its customers to conserve gas.
The City supplies residents with electricity, natural gas, water and sewer and buys its energy from distributors.
Severe weather across the country is putting a strain on the nation's natural gas system and electric market, the City says.
This is the second year in a row high-energy prices have caused problems for Fulton. Gas prices in Fulton skyrocketed due to frozen gas wells in February 2021. The City of Fulton had to pay its gas providers in Oklahoma and Texas increased rates due to the frozen wells.
The frozen wells created a shortage of available gas throughout the Midwest, causing an increase of up to 100 times the usual purchase price.
Fulton had to pay $3.4 million for natural gas over a five-day period in 2021.
In June 2021, Gov. Mike Parson presented a Municipal Utility Emergency Loan Program check to cover the cost of natural gas to the City of Fulton to help with the incurred price due to the cold snap.
The same winter storm system that brought subzero windchills to Mid-Missouri over the weekend also blanketed much of the U.S., leading to deaths in some places.
Tim Eggers, a manager at Ameren, said consumption has gone up while production is down, slowly catching up. According to Eggers, this has been the case for a few years and gas prices have slowly risen.
"Customers will see higher prices this winter than last winter," Eggers said. "An Ameren Missouri customer can expect to pay about 70 dollars more for an equivalent usage of natural gas versus last winter."
According to Eggers, things like labor shortages, supply chain disruptions and financial stresses of the economy contribute to the price increase.
There are things that gas companies do to try and save the consumer money as prices climb.
"We have fixed prices for supply and I have about 50% of my winter demand that's already stored in the ground at the price I bought it in the summer," Eggers said. "Even as prices move higher in the winter, I have a lot of hedged fixed price supply that I bring to the customers.
Although natural gas prices have been on the rise, Eggers does expect them to slow down after noticing a dip in prices the last few weeks. According to him, the price flucuates due to the main factors stated above, as well as the usage in colder weather.
Eggers has asked everyone to turn the thermostat down a few degrees not only to save some money, but also to help the industry get through these high usage periods.
Temperatures in Mid-Missouri are expected to warm this week to well above average.