116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Business
Temperatures are rising after the February cold snap chilled most of the continental United States, but so is your natural gas bill.
Starting next month, MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy both say they are expecting increases in gas bills following unusually high use amid limited supply.
MidAmerican said it is expecting residential customers to see a $13 jump on average, and commercial customers to see a $95 jump on average, in March.
The increases will continue throughout the year, the utility said in a news release.
MidAmerican anticipates an average increase of $214 throughout the year for residential customers who pay $566 annually on average - a 38 percent jump.
MidAmerican expects an average increase of $1,182 this year for commercial customers who pay $2,233 on average - a 53 percent jump.
Alliant also anticipates a rise in gas prices, but it's too soon to know how much, spokesman Mike Wagner said.
MidAmerican has 602,000 gas customers and Alliant has 225,000 gas customers in Iowa.
MidAmerican said its electric customers will see 'minimal impact” on their bills.
The Des Moines-based utility said the price jump in gas is a result of 'unusually strong” demand for natural gas during February's extreme cold and a lack of natural gas production in southern states.
'We understand that many are worried about an upcoming sticker shock for February heating, so we're doing everything we can to lessen the financial burden on our customers,” said a statement from Mike Gehringer, MidAmerican's vice president of customer operations.
Both Alliant and MidAmerican say they are hoping the Iowa Utilities Board suspends a rule at its March 12 meeting requiring the utilities to recoup the February costs by August.
'What we're working on is finding a way to spread that extra cost out over many more months,” Wagner said. 'That will lessen the impact.”
MidAmerican urged customers who are eligible to apply for the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. Other customers who are 'facing financial hardships” should contact MidAmerican 'so we can discuss options and try to help,” the news release stated.
Separately, Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa Finance Authority unveiled a system Thursday allowing Iowans to see online whether they'll be eligible for rent and utility assistance.
'At no fault of their own, many Iowans are struggling to pay their rent and utility bills as a result of lost income from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Reynolds said in a statement.
The program will provide up to 12 months of support for recipients' rent and utility bills.
Tenants who earn no more than 80 percent of the county's median household income, have a 'documented financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic” and are at risk of homelessness or housing instability are eligible. But homeowners are not.
Payments will go directly to landlords or utility providers.
For more program details, and to check to see if you are eligible, visit iowahousingrecovery.com.
Comments: (319) 398-8394; firstname.lastname@example.org