By Charlotte Lane
Chair of the West Virginia Public Service Commission
It is all over the news: inflation and unexpected high bills. We are all experiencing significant financial uncertainty with rising prices, supply chain issues, COVID 19 and other challenging disruptions around the world. Unexpected world events, such as the war in Ukraine, can cause supply interruptions of oil, gasoline, coal, natural gas, liquefied natural gas and propane around the globe. We all see how this financial uncertainty affects our own household expenses, so it’s not surprising these events also affect our utility providers.
Natural gas utilities are required to file 30C cases with the Commission each year to reflect changes in the purchased gas components of their rates. Those cases are due to be filed the first of August. All indications are that the cost utilities are paying for natural gas is three times higher than they were the first of this year. That is a 300% increase!
Unfortunately an increase in gas utility bills is unavoidable this year, but there is something you can do to lessen the sting.
Most of the natural gas utility companies in the state offer some sort of budget payment plan. When you sign up, the company will look at your gas usage over the past 12 months, normalize the usage based on weather experiences and calculate an average monthly bill for you based on the company’s current rates. That monthly payment will be modified from time to time based on changes in weather, your consumption and utility rate changes.
Budget billing plans allow you to avoid the stress of unexpected, extraordinarily high bills. More predictable bills make budgeting easier.
Budget payment plans are an optional tool offered by the utility companies. If you do enroll, you must make your payments on time to continue to stay on the plan and avoid a late charge.
I participate in the budget payment plan offered by my utility provider. It may be worthwhile for you to explore, too. This one act of planning can add some certainty in our uncertain world.