ST. PAUL (AP) -- The state's largest gas utility warned Minnesotans to expect a 30 percent jump in natural gas prices for September because of tight supply.
CenterPoint Energy Minnegasco, which serves more than 730,000 customers in the state, said it has to pay more for gas than a year ago, and that increase will be passed to customers.
Assuming a normal winter, the company said Wednesday, average customers would see their 2003 gas bill increase by $100 over last year, when it averaged $880.
"We're anticipating prices to be higher this winter than last winter, with next spring the tide turning," said Joe Klenken, who sets retail billing rates for CenterPoint.
Production was down for much of the year and natural gas companies were slow to put a lot of gas into storage, Klenken said.
"Last year at this time, storage was in better shape than it was now," he said.
Vince Chavez, who supervises the natural gas unit at the Minnesota Commerce Department, said that agency's survey shows prices up 40 percent to 45 percent this month compared with the same period a year ago.
"As we came out of last winter, the storage picture was very tricky," Chavez said. "They had drawn storage down to a new all-time low."
CenterPoint said it would be billing its residential customers 72 cents per therm of natural gas. The average CenterPoint residential customer uses 1,090 therms of gas a year, the company said.
That figure may be going down as more consumers buy fuel-efficient appliances and insulate their homes better, Klenken said.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.