Published in the Las Cruces Bulletin 1.27.23
By C.T. Barnes
Heating your house, showering, cooking and even doing laundry are a few of the many ways you may be using natural gas in your home.
As your natural gas usage rises during the winter months, the price you have been paying has also been rising. As Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) highlighted in the October 28, 2022, Las Cruces Bulletin article, natural gas prices are on the rise globally, and it’s important to make sure your budget is prepared for these out of norm increases.
LCU has been working hard to ensure they are watching natural gas price forecasts and purchasing at the best rates possible. “Prices have gone higher in the past. The difference now is that the price increase is not just lasting a day or two, but it is staying high for longer periods of time,” LCU Gas Business Analyst Mario Puentes stated.
The Southwest and West Coast are feeling the brunt of these increased prices a little more than the rest of the nation. One reason for the increased costs is the colder than normal weather in high populated western regions. When major winter storms hit, such as the one that hit the nation this past December, it affects the pricing, transportation, and extraction of natural gas. Other reasons include the increased use of natural gas to generate electricity, the export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) overseas, and geopolitical events such as the war in Ukraine.
LCU purchases a portion of winter gas supply in layers or batches to create a portfolio of gas supply with the objective of achieving a manageable average price. But it must buy more gas when the weather gets colder and daily prices currently are dynamic, e.g., “From one day to the next, prices jumped from $7.75 to $19.66 per dekatherm and continue to rise in areas like the California border where the price increased to $22.00 per dekatherm,” Puentes pointed out. “In November, prices were between $7.00 and $13.00 per dekatherm, but in December prices were between $24.00 and $44.00 per dekatherm,” Puentes stated.
If possible, LCU advises replacing your older appliances to energy efficient models and making sure your home insulation is up to date. LCU also recommends keeping all windows, doors, and especially your garage door closed to help keep the heat inside your home. Upgrading your thermostat to a smart, energy efficient thermostat is also something you can do easily to assist in keeping your energy bills within your budget.
It is important for you to know that LCU does not like the current price environment. It is a priority for LCU to alert you of any major changes in the market, so you are prepared for your monthly bill. “In my 30 plus years in this industry, I had not experienced market dynamics like we see today, but LCU will continue to ensure it provides a reliable natural gas supply to our customers,” 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: Gas stove showing the usage of natural gas in the home – courtesy LCU