While most people are worried about staying cool right now, energy companies are already looking ahead to next winter. Mark Reinders with Mid American Energy says natural gas prices are expected to stay high. “The outlook for the upcoming winter season is pretty much what it’s been the last couple,” Reinders says. “The prices have continued to stay pretty stable, and by stable I guess I mean a little higher than they have been in the past.”
The price got to a certain point and it’s not coming back down, according to Reinders. He says one cause of that higher-priced product is damage done to refineries in summer 2005 by hurricanes on the gulf coast.
Power companies are writing winter contracts now and filling their reserves, and Reinders says the upward price trend is continuing. He says about a year ago the power company was warning customers their winter heat bills would probably increasing by 50 to 60-percent, and Reinders says that was fairly accurate as he says by the end of winter there was about a 40 percent increase.
Reinders says the “wild card” is the same again this year — the weather. “If it gets cold early in the season — late fall, early winter — that seems to drive the price up,” Reinder says. “If we have a fairly mild fall and early winter, then the price seems to stabilize at a fairly decent rate.”
MidAmerican is a major natural gas supplier serving six-hundred-19-thousand natural gas customers in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Illinois. Three of the four interstate natural-gas pipelines running through Iowa serve MidAmerican Energy with natural gas.