Per an order issued by the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) on Dec. 1, 2021, Black Hills Energy will be collecting its natural gas costs incurred during the extreme weather event in February 2021 over a span of two-years. The recovery of natural gas costs began in April 2021 and will continue through March 31, 2023.
In April 2021, an additional line item was added to customer bills titled 2021 Polar Vortex, with cost recovery anticipated for a three-year term. Per the IUB order, recovery will now happen over a shortened period, resulting in an increase in the cost per therm customers will see each month. The previous cost was $0.18123 per therm, charged on monthly usage. With the IUB order, customers can now expect a cost of $0.33904 per therm.* For residential customers, usage is the biggest factor in energy bills and weather (or temperature) is the driver in increased usage.
“The financial well-being of our customers is important to us and we recognize how these additional costs can impact a family budget,” said Shirley Welte, vice president of Iowa operations. “We remain committed to supporting reasonable energy costs.”
The IUB also issued its final decision and order on Dec. 28, 2021, regarding the request from Black Hills Energy in Docket No. RPU-2021-0002 to increase its customer natural gas rates to recover investments in its pipeline infrastructure and increased operating costs. New rates will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. The settlement results in a $0.20 increase for an average residential monthly bill.
Customers who may need help paying their monthly bill can also reach out to Black Hills Energy to discuss payment options that may be available to customers during the winter moratorium law. Customers who qualify for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Weatherization Assistance Program are protected from the annual shutoff of natural gas and electric service from November 1 to April 1.
*Gas supply teams continuously prepare for extreme demand and price changes to minimize the financial impact to our customers by implementing a portfolio of gas purchase options. The 2021 extreme weather event caused the largest natural gas price increases in the last twenty years.