First winter heating bills hit customers hard
by Eric Snyder --
Jan 11, 2006 | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Many Cadiz residents are hot under the collar after receiving their first natural-gas bills of the season reflecting the new reality of today’s energy costs.

“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.
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