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West Michiganders may be 'shielded' from surge in natural gas prices

Posted at 9:31 PM, Oct 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-20 22:10:24-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Across the nation, people are bracing for the rising cost to stay warm.

U.S. energy officials estimate that some households could see a more than 50 percent increase in their bills this winter, compared to last year. Though as prices of oil and natural gas surge, utility companies here in West Michigan say our area is in a better position for customers to not feel it is as steep of an increase.

“Customers might be seeing the headlines with high natural gas prices, but they're actually going to be shielded for the most part,” says Consumers Energy’s West Michigan Spokesperson Josh Paciorek.

Consumers Energy, which provides electricity and natural gas to more than half of Michigan’s population, says people can expect their bills to increase slightly but not to extreme levels like other areas of the country are anticipating.

The company operates 15 large underground storage facilities in the state, which holds natural gas reserves for the winter season.

“About 50 percent of the natural gas we use this winter is going to be coming from the natural gas we've already purchased,” Paciorek explained.

“There's going to be some natural gas that we have to buy on an as-needed basis, and that's where we'll be participating in the current pricing data and the current pricing structure. That's where your customers might see a smaller uptick in their heating bills.”

The company says the storage system has already saved West Michiganders money this year.

“Consumers Energy customers pay about $2.16 [a day] in 2021 for natural gas. That's about 21 percent less than what the average customer would pay nationally. So we've been working to keep our natural gas prices low, again, through this storage system,” Paciorek added.

The best way to keep your energy bills low is to make sure you’re ready for winter and your home is equipped to be energy efficient. According to Consumers, turning down your thermostat just one degree could save you 3 percent a month on your bill. The company also suggests people seal gaps around windows and doors.

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