City of Winchester Hoping to Keep Natural Gas Billing at Normal Rate As It Combats High Cost – WLDS
The city of Winchester heard from city and state leaders about extremely high natural gas bills being received by residents last night. The city of Winchester said the cost of purchasing gasoline for the last week, Feb.13-18, totaled $ 387,000. In figures released by the city council last night, however, the price for the week of February 1-5 cost the city just $ 6,900. Mayor Rex McIntire told the crowd of 15 residents that the situation was unprecedented.
MxIntire found that a similar polar vortex emerged in 2011, sweeping the country, but not disrupting natural gas consumption or increasing prices as exponentially as they did last week. McIntire said the nearly 300% price hike was the worst.
McIntire invited Senator Steve McClure and State Representative CD Davidsmeyer to speak with the city about state-level plans to help dozen of rural communities run their own natural gas utilities.
McClure says Governor JB Pritzker has a loan program that he’ll unveil today: “It sounds like it’s a low-interest loan. I’m not sure what the details are, whether they are for communities or individuals. So I have to reserve my judgment on what I tell people until I get the details. I appreciate the governor’s leadership in this regard. He realizes that it really matters to all of us in rural Illinois. I’m looking forward to being at the press conference and hearing its details, but at the same time we need to get some relief for the federal government here too. In my opinion, the attorney general in the states concerned should file lawsuits against these companies over the current events on this natural gas issue. At this time of year we see almost record temperatures for this time. What are people supposed to do, they can’t afford their bills. It is outrageous that we must do something about it and I think steps are being taken. “
Davidsmeyer says the entire process of relief for everyone from Illinois to the state of Texas has been on hold for everyone: “We’re all on one side when it comes to working together and making sure our two communities have the stop gap practices in place You have to get through until hopefully bigger later options come from the federal government. These are discussions that must go along with the discussion about how the emergency dollars get to Texas. We just have to see. “
McIntire and prosecutor John Paul Coonrod say the city will wait for a large group of lawsuits to be filed against Panhandle Eastern Pipeline and other companies over the unnatural price jump during the event. McIntire says every effort will be made to get money back for the city which will ultimately be at the mercy of its natural gas supplier’s price demand. According to McIntire, the only benefit of the crisis is that several cities along the pipeline are in a similar situation and will work together to find a solution.
The city is working on how best to handle the payments for natural gas suppliers for city customers as many details are to be worked out in the coming days. They worked late into the board meeting. This story evolves. WLDS News hopes to learn more about the impact on Winchester’s natural gas bills and how the city plans to deal with customers who are unable to pay the higher bills because of the pricing event.