“I was madder than a son-of-a-gun,” said Wade Kennedy about opening his latest bill from Atmost Energy earlier this month.
Kennedy’s previous bill, for portions of October and November, was $56. But like many residents who heat with natural gas, his next bill was more than double that — $136.
Kennedy called it a “sky-rocket rise.”
“I just think it’s unfair,” said Kennedy, a senior who lives alone. “It’s a big strain on our budgets.”
Atmos Energy, like natural-gas providers across the country, began warning its 180,000 Kentucky customers to expect bills up to 60 percent higher than last winter after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita disrupted natural-gas production in the Gulf of Mexico.
The Kentucky Public Service Council (PSC), the state agency that regulates state utilities, has said the high natural-gas costs “are likely to persist for several years.”
“Nobody is going to ride in on a white horse today,” said Tom Higdon, Manager of Public Affairs for Atmos’ Kentucky Division.
Cadiz resident Denise Alexander was relieved her bill was $160, and not the $200 she feared.
“I was, surprisingly, shocked,” she said. “I thought it would be more.”
Alexander said her family has kept the thermostat at its regular level — 68 degrees. They have also kept in mind a telling quote from their pastor.
“Be thankful for your high heating bill,” he told them, “because that means you have a warm house.”
Because Kentuckians can’t expect relief in the near term, Higdon offered some advice to make homes more energy efficient.
“[Make] sure your house is tight,” he said, meaning sealed from the elements with ample insulation, caulking, etc. For this, Higdon encourages homeowners to consult with a home-improvement store.
For the rest of this story, please see this week's edition of The Cadiz Record.