In Illinois, the existing regulations already spread gas supply costs out through December, so no changes were needed. Illinois customers will begin noticing slightly higher bills in April.
In February 2021, an arctic cold snap moved across the Midwest and South Central United States causing our customers to use more natural gas to heat their homes and businesses. In addition, the cold in the South caused disruptions in natural gas supply to the Midwest, creating higher-than-normal natural gas prices. During this time, MidAmerican Energy and our systems were prepared – our customers never experienced rolling blackouts or natural gas shortages.
Due to the higher-than-normal usage, as well as increased cost of natural gas during this time, we have worked with the Iowa Utilities Board to spread these costs out across many months to protect our customers and reduce the impact of higher heating bills.
We’ll spread out the cost to Iowa customers by slightly increasing the monthly cost you pay for your gas supply over a period of 13 months (April 2021 through April 2022) to collect the costs you incurred in February. On average, if you had the same natural gas usage each month, a residential customer would see $8/month in increased costs, but this will vary depending on your usage each month.
You may have some questions. We have answers. Look through the FAQ below to get more details and clarity on our efforts to minimize the impact of February's natural gas costs for our customers.
Why is MidAmerican doing it this way?
We're spreading out this cost to help our customers in a time when many people are experiencing ongoing financial difficulties as a result of COVID-19 and other economic challenges. Because this situation wasn’t anticipated, spreading out the costs also allows customers to plan for these small monthly increases. We don’t profit on the natural gas supply – you simply pay the price we pay our suppliers.
How will my bill differ if I live in Illinois, Nebraska or South Dakota?
In Nebraska, natural gas prices are pre-contracted, meaning the market fluctuation did not have as great of an impact as it did in other states. Nebraska customers will see only a small change to their gas bills through the remainder of 2021.
In South Dakota, typically costs can only be spread out through August. However, MidAmerican worked quickly with the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission to approve a plan that would spread out gas supply costs beginning in March through December 2021. Depending on the timing of your meter read, some South Dakota customers may have already noticed a slight increase to bills.
What does that mean for my monthly gas bill?
It means that this summer, even if you're using very little natural gas, the monthly charge for gas per therm will be increased. In other words, your gas usage volume is low, but the per unit cost is higher. In the fall and winter, when you're using more gas to heat your home or business, you will see an increase from what you've paid in the past, even if your usage is similar to last year. This is because you are using more gas to heat your home and the charge for gas per therm will be increased to include the costs from the February cold snap. Most customers will begin to notice a higher bill in the month of October.
The Gas Supply Charge is what’s changing on your bill:
The Gas Supply Charge represents the monthly cost of the natural gas you used. This value is calculated monthly to represent the fluctuating market prices of natural gas. That monthly rate, multiplied by your actual natural gas usage, equals the Gas Supply Charge portion of your gas bill. MidAmerican doesn't earn a profit from the natural gas supplied to you. Our customers pay the actual cost of the natural gas we purchase from our suppliers with no markup. Beginning April 2021, through April 2022, the per therm Gas Supply Charge monthly rate will also include the cost of gas supplied during the February cold snap.
I read a news story about someone who was charged thousands of dollars for gas in another state. Is my bill going to suddenly be that high?
Not at all. The costs included due to the February cold snap are not anything close to other states and utilities that dominated the news in recent weeks. The costs will also be split up over 13 months rather than charged to you all on one bill. Between our proactive storage of natural gas and advance purchasing contracts that we locked in prior to February, we were able to shield our customers from more than $400 million in costs that would have been incurred otherwise.
Is there anything I can do to keep my bill from going up?
You can take measures to improve the energy efficiency of your space to use less gas. Take a look at some quick and easy ways you can conserve energy and money on your bill.