SD PUC says natural gas prices to double over winter months

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — After several years of low natural gas prices, South Dakota Public Utilities Commission Vice Chair Kristie Fiegan said utility bills this winter might come with sticker shock due to a national shortage.

Chairman of the South Dakota PUC Chris Nelson wants to warn consumers about natural gas prices doubling over the last several months. It’s due to a variety of reasons involving the supply and demand of the commodity.

“We’re seeing record usage of natural gas to generate electricity as we see a move away from coal-fired electricity generation. Some of that is being replaced with natural gas generation, so larger consumption amounts there,” said Nelson.

Northwestern Energy serves much of Nebraska and South Dakota. They say there’s other factors behind the shortage besides record-high demand such as kinks in the supply chain with hurricanes along the Gulf Coast halting gas production for months.

“Obviously the hurricane season is out of anyone’s control, and natural gas is traded as an open-market commodity so sometimes fear and things like that drive that market price,” said Northwestern Energy Community Relations Manager Tom Glanzer.

Although prices are expected to climb to their highest levels in a decade, there’s still options for people who want to save some money on their gas bill while improving their energy efficiency.

Kalin’s Indoor Comfort has an “Aeroseal” technology that helps prevent ducts from leaking air. General manager Steve Kistner spoke on the difference one customer saw after having the service completed.

“As a result, they ended up getting the temperature within one to two degrees difference, huge comfort improvement, but also the ability to reduce that wasted energy where you didn’t want it to go,” said Kistner.

Kistner also said this is a great time of year to have routine maintenance check-ups on your furnace and to winterize your home by making sure it’s well-insulated so heat can’t escape easily.

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