Fewer options may be available after the Cold Weather Rule ends March 31.
• Special to the Leader & Time
The abundance of clean, reliable natural gas has contributed to natural gas prices that are lower than last year, and forecasts are for stable pricing for the near future. Despite slightly colder than normal weather this winter and other factors that affect the total bill, lower gas prices have contributed to keeping customer bills lower, on average, this winter than they were last winter. But for those who are still struggling to pay their gas bill as the winter heating season ends, Black Hills wants to help.
Black Hills Energy is urging customers with bill payment issues to call the company’s 24-hour customer service center at 888-890-5554 as soon as possible. The Kansas Cold Weather Rule ends March 31. The rule allows for special winter heating season payment arrangements and limits disconnection for residential natural gas customers with past due bills between Nov. 1 and March 31.
“Natural gas is an excellent value, and all Black Hills Energy customers have benefited from lower prices for natural gas,” said Trent Cozad, vice president, Gas Supply Services, Black Hills Energy. “On average, customer bills through the end of February in Kansas for the 2010-11 heating season are 15.5 percent lower than they were last winter. Barring unforeseen economic turns or weather-related interruptions, we anticipate stable natural gas prices for the near future. However, we do understand that some customers face challenges, and we want to help them maintain their natural gas service.”
Black Hills Energy customers who want to help those in need can contribute a monthly or one-time contribution to the Black Hills Cares energy assistance program anytime. Customer bill-stubs include a form field for contributing and www.blackhillsenergy.com contains additional information, including energy efficiency tips that can help to reduce energy usage.
Contributions are tax deductible and Black Hills matches them before forwarding the total to local assistance agencies. In Kansas, Warm Hearts of Douglas County distributes Black Hills Cares funds in the Lawrence area, and The Salvation Army’s HeatShare program does so to Black Hills Energy customers in the rest of the state.