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Consumers can mitigate higher heating costs

Natural gas prices are expected to increase more than 50% over last year across the country due to increasing demand and flat supply, not just nationally but globally.

JSSP Letter to Editor
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With natural gas prices projected to be higher than last year for the winter heating season, Montana-Dakota Utilities and AARP North Dakota have teamed up to provide customers and members information about the price projection and tips on how to mitigate some of the increase.

Natural gas prices are expected to increase more than 50% over last year across the country due to increasing demand and flat supply, not just nationally but globally. Options for controlling costs include:

• Balanced billing: Montana-Dakota offers balanced billing as a way for customers to levelize their payments over the course of a year.

• Weatherizing: Customers can install a programmable thermostat, schedule a furnace check, change their furnace filters regularly and caulk or weather strip leaky windows and doors.

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• Financial assistance: Montana-Dakota and AARP can direct customers to agencies that provide financial assistance, such as the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Many AARP members are customers of Montana-Dakota. Utility rates are an essential pocketbook issue for North Dakota residents 50-plus and their families. With winter on our doorstep, it is important consumers understand the options to help mitigate these higher heating costs.

The main reason prices are higher not only nationally, but globally, is that supply simply hasn’t kept up with demand. Despite natural gas prices increasing in 2021, drilling nationwide hasn’t grown. The amount of natural gas in storage also is below the five-year average.

The cost of natural gas is a straight passthrough to customers; Montana-Dakota does not earn a profit on the cost of natural gas. That said, the company goes through a robust process to secure an adequate supply for the winter heating season using different sources and methods to mitigate big swings in prices.

While natural gas prices are projected to be higher than last year, it’s still the most affordable fuel. Natural gas is 25- 50% lower than other fuel sources, such as propane and electricity, depending on the fuel and local pricing. The natural gas futures market and most energy publications suggest that natural gas prices should begin to decline in the first half of 2022.

More information about mitigating heating costs can be found at https://bit.ly/mducustomers . Montana-Dakota customers also can call 800-638-3278 for information on financial assistance.

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