Volume 105, Number 38 - September 18, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
by Jonathan Van Dyke
On the whole, many Pinedale residents will see an increase in their gas and electric bills of close to 9 percent this winter, according to officials present at a Winter Heating Costs Town Meeting.
“This is an issue that not only will affect low income households but also those in the middle,” said Ivan Williams, speaking on behalf of the Office of Consumer Advocates.
Earlier in the year, the governor’s office had sent out a press release warning that prices could increase by as much as 70 percent in the natural gas industry.
“It’s not going to be up 70 percent, it’s actually barely going to be up at all,” said Steve Shute, co-owner of Pinedale Natural Gas.
Officials have now scrambled in order to thwart that reality. Shute admitted that keeping prices in line could be difficult because of the limited sources the area can use.
“We’re sort of captive in Pinedale because we only have one source,” he added.
Those using natural gas this winter, in medium-sized, average households should see their bills rise by 9 percent.
“That price is basically locked in for November through [next] March,” Shute said.
On the electricity side, Rocky Mountain Power has been dealing with the region’s increase in megawatt presence, which has mainly come online through the energy industry. The state is expected to, in some places, almost double in the megawatts of energy needed.
“We are entering a major growth cycle,” said Dave Mosier, representing Rocky Mountain Power.
The largest users, like those in the energy fields, are seeing upward of an 8 percent growth rate, and could double the megawatts needed by 2012, Mosier said.
However, due to diligent efforts, Rocky Mountain Power has gotten the approval of the state to change its charging system. This will give the brunt of the costs to those large organizations going online in the near future, rather than distributing it to the small-time users.
The average home paid near $58 in January 2008, and that will increase to about $63 in January 2009.
For those households feeling the pinch of these ever-rising prices, there are some state and federal assistance programs. Officials implored residents to try and make their homes as energy efficient as possible. Energy efficiency is the number one way to reduce power costs, officials added.
The Low Income Energy Assistance Program was designed to help with just that, offering potential financial assistance and weatherization for homes that qualify.
“[If you qualify] it is at no cost to the client,” said Leesa Pasquin of the Department of Family Services. Applications are being taken from October until February. Contact 1-800-246-4221 or go to http://dfsweb.state.wy.us/lieap/lieap.html for more information.
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