MidAmerican Energy is warning natural gas customers the cost of heating is going to be a lot more this winter.

MidAmerican spokesman Geoff Greenwood says the cost for the company to acquire natural gas has changed dramatically.
“Last year gas prices on the open market were really low. This year they have whipsawed and they are really high. Global demand is up, production here the U.S. and storage are down, and that all translates into higher market prices for that commodity,” he says.

Greenwood says the cost for the company to buy the natural gas is the same cost that customers are charged. “Based on the market prices for natural gas over the last month alone, our residential customers throughout our service area can likely expect their total bills to increase anywhere from 46 to 96 percent,” according to Greenwood. “And that’s throughout the heating season which begins in November and runs through March.”

Greenwood says there are some other factors outside the price of natural gas that can impact your bill. “Such as, what the temperature will be and how much natural gas you use — and also future market prices,” Greenwood says. He says MidAmerican takes some steps to try and mitigate the price of natural gas.

“And that includes locking in purchase contracts before prices go up. So we try to get the gas at the best possible price and lock in that contract and then it is ready at a lower price during the winter heating season,” Greenwood says. “Additionally, we store natural gas, we purchase it during the summer months and store it and then release it during the winter months, again to try and minimize the price hikes that our customers will see.”

Greenwood says you can look for ways to winterize your home to save on heating bills. And if he says they want to help you.
“If any customer believes they are going to struggle to pay their utility bill — give us a call — we will work with you as much as we can to try and work together through this heating season,” Greenwood says.

There is state heating assistance available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.