DAVE & DUJANOVIC
Cost of heating homes in Utah rising as thermometer sinks
SALT LAKE CITY — More Americans are struggling to pay their energy bills. Nearly 1.5 million more U.S. households applied for energy assistance this year, which is the biggest one-year hike since 2009. Heating costs have jumped, plus it’s been (extra) cold recently in Utah.
KSL meteorologist Kevin Eubank joined Jeff Caplan’s Afternoon News on Monday to discuss the bone-chilling temperatures.
Eubank said that Logan saw a low of minus 30 degrees in the overnight hours of Sunday into Monday. He said that was the coldest morning in Logan in 33 years.
Heating-cost assistance available
The current natural gas price for Utah resident dipped 15.03% from last month but is up 18.88% from one year ago, according YCharts.
Michelle Beck, director of the Utah Office of Consumer Services, joined Dave & Dujanovic to discuss the financial resources available to keep up with rising cost of heating homes.
Beck mentioned the Utah program Home Energy Assistance Target (HEAT), which provides year-round energy and water assistance as well as energy- and water-related crisis assistance for eligible low-income households throughout Utah.
To qualify, the total household income must be at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level.
If you qualify, Beck said, the assistance “will lessen the burden [of heating and water costs], and it’s there sitting, waiting for you, so go take advantage. . . . It’s worth checking on that because we don’t want these resources unused.”
Home heating cost rising
Dave said his utility bills have increased during the past two years.
“If I’m being completely honest, my bills, inflation, everything have gone up so much in the last couple of years, I almost can’t pay any more attention to it. Can you give us an idea of how much it’s increased?” he asked.
Beck told Dave she had some numbers to share about rising cost of heating.
“It’s 22% higher than last year, [and] last year was 19% higher than the year before. This is for an average residential bill. So we’re already looking at more than 40% increase. Because December market prices were so high, there’s another six and a half percent increase on the horizon. . . We’re not talking about regular inflation here. We’re talking about shocking,” Beck said.
“‘I’ve heard from friends and family. They can’t believe how much their gas bill is this year,” Debbie said.
“This is coming after a period of prolonged low prices, but that doesn’t make it hurt less,” Beck said.
“Since January of 2020, customers have seen an average of $22 per month increase on their natural gas bill,” said Jorgan Hofeling, media relations advisor for Dominion Energy, supplying natural gas to approximately 80 percent of Utah homes.
“Of the $22 per month average increase, about $19-20/month, on average, can be attributed to these rising gas prices. The market can be volatile, difficult to predict and fluctuations may arise,” she said.
Hofeling said factors contributing to those fluctuations include:
- The drought in the West has driven down hydroelectric production, and natural-gas electric production has replace that demand last summer,
- Higher demand for natural gas for electric production in California and
- Storage levels in the Pacific states are 30 percent lower than the five-year average.
Heating-cost assistance for natural gas bills
“We understand the economic challenges some of our customers are facing. We will continue to provide financial assistance and flexible payment plans to assist our most vulnerable customers,” Hofeling said.
She said customers needing assistance can call 211, visit https://www.dominionenergy.com/utah/billing/billing-o ptions-and-assistance, or contact customer care at 1-800-323-5517.
Hofeling added Dominion Energy’s Thermwise program helps customers save energy and money with energy assistance tips and suggestions (www.thermwise.com).
Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Power spokesperson Jona Whitesides said the company’s electricity rates have remained steady over the past two years.
He said two items driving up the price of electricity during winter are space heaters and Christmas lights, inside and out.
- Freezing weather causes delayed start for Cache County School District schools
- Citing ‘dangerously low’ overnight temps, county opens emergency shelter
Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic, also known as D2, join forces, mornings on KSL Newsradio.
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