Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 10.28.22
By C.T. Barnes
As the calendar moves into the colder winter months, Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) wants to make sure its customers are prepared in multiple ways. As highlighted in past articles, there is an increase in natural gas prices globally. This is due to the increased use of natural gas to generate electricity, the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas, and geopolitical events.
“In my 30 plus years of experience, 20 of those years at LCU, I have seen prices rise and fall for natural gas, and I can confidently say prices have been higher than they are currently,” LCU Gas Business Analyst Mario Puentes stated. “In the 2005 thru 2009 period prices were higher or just as high as the current market prices,” Puentes continued.
Even though natural gas prices in the first decade of the 2000’s were comparable to today, current prices are about 35% higher now than they were a year ago. This is due to a tight balance between supply and demand for natural gas worldwide. The purchase prices in Europe and other world markets are much higher than in the United States, which creates an incentive for producers to sell natural gas to those markets in addition to the United States (U.S.).
“We monitor and watch prices, as well as study worldwide energy dynamics, this helps form the basis to purchase natural gas in layers or batches that will be used during the winter months,” Puentes stated. The rising natural gas prices are not related to the Cost of Service (COS) rates that increased in September 2022. LCU overall will continue to watch trends to look for dips in the market to buy the rest of the natural gas that will be consumed in the winter months. That is because LCU does not buy all the natural gas that will be consumed each winter in a single transaction. Instead, it is purchased in layers or batches to create a portfolio of gas supply with the objective to achieve a manageable average price.
LCU recommends, if possible, to upgrade your appliances to energy efficient appliances to be in control of the cost you are paying as we see this rise in prices for natural gas. Make sure that your house has proper insulation installed, while keeping all doors and windows closed, when possible, to keep the heat from escaping from your home. Although not all of these options may be possible right away, slowly upgrading your home can make a huge difference during the winter months.
With LCU’s main goal of providing excellent service and securing natural gas supply to its customers, LCU continues to monitor the market as the winter season approaches. “While constantly trying to provide Las Cruces citizens with the best natural gas service, it is important to know that we do not mark up the natural gas price to our customers, the fuel cost goes directly to the consumer and is not a profit for LCU,” Puentes concluded.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU natural gas line – Courtesy LC