With the sub-zero temperatures for a week in February, Natural Gas consumers in Lincoln and several other areas of the state will see higher monthly bills for the next three years. The Nebraska Public Service Commission unanimously approved a plan by Black Hills Energy to apply surcharges to consumer bills over three years to recoup $86.5 million in Natural Gas costs related to the record-setting cold snap.
Residential customers will pay an extra $10 per month, while commercial customers will pay an additional $38 per month. The surcharges, which will take effect on July 1, will appear on consumer bills as a separate line item. In its order, the Public Service Commission described the plan as “a fair solution to avoid excessive strain on consumers and the utility.”
The $86.5 million is made up of $79.75 million in gas supply costs and $6.75 million in carrying costs, which are simply borrowing costs that enable consumers to pay back the excess amount over 36 months rather than all at once. However, if Black Hills’ real funding costs are less than the $6.75 million estimates, the order states that it can only charge consumers the actual sum.
Customers who are enrolled in the Choice Gas program or have chosen the 2020-2021 Annual Price Option program will not be affected by the surcharges. In February, the state’s winter weather saw temperatures plummet to all-time lows across the country, sending natural gas prices soaring from February 13 to 18. Lincoln overnight temperatures fell below zero for 11 days in a row, culminating in a minus 31-degree reading on February 16, the coldest temperature ever recorded in Lincoln in February.