Confounding all forecasts, the cost of natural gas has dropped more than 50% since last fall. Most energy companies tried to lock in what they thought were low prices last summer to even out possible price spikes. Mark Reinders, spokesman for MidAmerican Energy, says Iowa’s largest utility had a hard time trying to out-guess the market.
"After the winter season got underway, the price of natural gas continued to go down and it’s very low now, compared to what it was several years ago," Reinders says. "It’s ultimately good for our customers but in terms of it actually showing up on a customer’s bill tomorrow or the next day, it will be a longer process than that." It’ll pay off in the long run, he says.
"If it all stays like it is, our customers will probably be feeling the benefit of the prices now in the next winter cycle rather than the existing winter cycle," he says. "I guess the good news is, hopefully, we’re about out of this winter cycle now." Reinders says the drops in prices this winter helped moderate overall energy costs for the Des Moines-based utility’s customers.
"At the same time, for the winter season we’re just moving out of, the prices that we did buy natural gas and are passing on to our customers, we feel it was very reflective of the existing market conditions," he says. MidAmerican serves about 700-thousand natural gas customers and 723,000 electric customers, mostly in Iowa, but also in parts of Illinois, South Dakota and Nebraska.