Council hikes residents' natural gas rates
Bergmann said by raising the rates a little bit now, it would help keep the city from being forced to raise the rates a lot in the future.
Breaking it down even further, Bergmann said the median residential customer uses about 400 therms per year. The yearly cost to that customer under the old rates would have been $1,030. Under the new rate increase, the cost would go up $1,075, a $45 increase.
After Bergmann’s presentation some of the city council members voiced their displeasure over the need to raise the natural gas rates, most notably council member Lino Callegari.
“If we got to go up, we got to go up,” Callegari said. “But the people out there didn’t expect that. Somewhere, we got to come to a balance and say, ‘hey, are we spending more than we should?’ The people I’m trying to look out for are the ones who are having a tough time everyday. It isn’t going to get any better, and we need to see what we can do.”
Lassen Municipal Utility District Energy Services Specialist Theresa Phillips told the council some district customers are starting to use alternate sources of fuel for a reason.
“Part of what I do is help people conserve energy,” Phillips said. “In the last two weeks, I’ve probably gotten about 15 phone calls, mostly from senior citizens, wondering how they’re going to keep warm this winter. Some of them are looking at options like plug in electric heaters. That’s not a good option. They’re just going to fuel-trade.
“Electricity’s not cheap. When they’re looking to heat their homes, and you look at economy versus efficiency, we’re in a backwards situation here where electricity is actually a viable alternative to natural gas. Nowhere else in the United States is that a factor.”
Bergmann responded by saying that may be the case in situations where people have a ground-source heat pump and a back up system of natural gas, minus the expenses for owning two heating systems. He said he had numbers supporting natural gas as being a cheaper source for heating than electricity.
Phillips then urged the council to consider the senior citizens and low-income families in the process.
Regardless, Phillips asked the council to consider an assistance program for some of the lower income customers, which Bonham said would most likely happen now that the rates have been raised.
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