Electric Wire, Episode 22 – Winter Heating Costs Discussed at Capitol Briefing

Madison, WI – On February 23, 2022, several legislators invited representatives from Wisconsin’s investor-owned utilities to provide information to legislative offices at the Wisconsin State Capitol about the higher-than-average costs of natural gas heating bills this winter.

On the latest episode of the Electric Wire podcast, we share a recording of the briefing, including information provided by Bill Skewes, Executive Director, Wisconsin Utilities Association; Rich Stasik, Director of State Regulatory Affairs, WEC Energy Group; Sara Mead, Director of Gas Supply, WEC Business Services; and, Matt Vincent, Senior Manager of Energy Markets and Fuel Supply, Alliant Energy.

The presenters covered some of the key drivers of increases in heating costs this winter as they relate to natural gas, including higher demand and lower inventory.

Skewes noted that for these utilities, the natural gas provided for home heating is a pass-through expense, and utilities don’t earn a higher profit from the higher costs of natural gas that they buy on the market.

Utilities undertake various strategies on behalf of their customers to mitigate the risk of gas price fluctuations over time, including hedging strategies to allow them to purchase some gas supplies when costs are lower. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin reviews utility activities and expenses and ultimately sets customer rates.

Listen to the Electric Wire, Episode 22, “Capitol Briefing on Winter Heating Bills,” wherever you get your podcasts, or at our YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/BhKKjTWk3jg

Briefing Notes

Energy Information Administration: Fluctuating weather this winter has significantly affected natural gas prices…

“Natural gas prices in the United States fluctuate during the winter months due to a variety of factors, including the levels of natural gas inventories, production, consumption, exports, pipeline congestion, availability and competition with other energy sources in electricity generation, and weather.

Unusually cold winter weather events result in increased demand for space heating and may be accompanied by production disruptions (such as well freeze-offs) or natural gas infrastructure disruptions (such as compressor outages).”

Link:
https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/weekly/archivenew_ngwu/2022/02_24/#itn-tabs-0

We Energies: Understanding the PGA line on your bill

“Natural gas is bought and sold on the commodities market, similar to goods like oil or milk. The price we pay for the gas is the same price you pay — there is no mark up.”

Link:
https://www.wecenergygroup.com/home/message/we-energies-cold-wx-impact.htm

Alliant Energy: Increased fuel prices likely to impact heating bills this winter

“The EIA estimates natural gas costs in the Midwest will rise nearly 50% compared to last year due to projected increases in fuel costs and the likelihood households will use more energy due to a predicted colder winter.”

Link:
https://www.alliantenergy.com/accountandbilling/billmeterrates/makingsenseofheatingcosts

Related Reading

Citizens Utility Board: Prepare for higher heating costs this winter
https://cubwi.org/prepare-for-higher-heating-costs-this-winter/

Wisconsin Public Radio: Wisconsin utilities warn customers may feel the pinch of surging natural gas prices this winter
https://www.wpr.org/wisconsin-utilities-warn-customers-may-feel-pinch-surging-natural-gas-prices-winter

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: You’re not imagining things — your energy bill has gone up. Here’s why.
https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/milwaukee/2022/01/26/your-energy-bill-much-higher-than-normal-blame-natural-gas-prices/9224882002/

Related Resources

Home Energy Plus Application
https://energybenefit.wi.gov/OnlineApps/OnlineApp/Default#!

Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund
https://www.kwwf.org/apply