Orion hopes for redress from natural gas bill that jumped from $8K to $102K | Local Education
“We got the bill, we were in shock,” Superintendent Joe Blessman said. “I called (state Rep.) Dan (Swanson) to see what could be done. I thought we should be protected from price gouging.”
Blessman said the district had continued to get its gas in February.
“We were never told the prices were astronomical,” he said. “We got the bill and fell out of our chairs.”
He said Swanson was “great” to work with and called him back multiple times, helping him get in touch with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC).
“And that’s where I filed my complaint,” he said.
The ICC in turn got a response from MidAmerican Energy, from whom the Orion district has been buying gas since 2002.
With MidAmerican Energy, Orion is using a market-based natural gas product that increases or decreases as the utility’s weighted average cost to deliver natural gas changes.
In the response letter, the utility noted multiple natural gas producers in Oklahoma and Texas had frozen well heads and equipment because of the effects of winter storm Uri, and the scarcity of natural gas caused significant price increases across the Midwest. Pipeline prices for natural gas averaged $155.84 per 1 million British thermal units during the week of the storm, Feb. 12 through 19, compared with typical February pricing of less than $3.
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