Just when you thought there was enough bad news to go around, it appears we’re in for another kick in the pants with predictions that utility prices are going to jump this winter.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported in October that residential propane prices (most of us don’t use propane in Utah) were starting the winter heating season at their highest level since 2011. For people back east who use heating oil, they will see higher prices than what the past two years brought. ‘Winter Fuels Outlook’ forecasts that U.S. households who use natural gas to heat will spend an average of $746 on heat bills from October-March, which is 30% more than last year. Dominion Energy is passing on an 8.9% increase in natural gas as of this month to all us users in Utah. We’re lucky though that we get our gas from nearby states and Dominion stores it for later use, which keeps the price down.
It’s completely logical that residential prices for energy are going up because more people are staying at home working and using more gas and electricity. Utah has the lowest water prices in the west thanks to our Utah State Legislature, so don’t expect to see any jump in water bills despite the statewide drought.
There are a ton of options to help you pay your bills if you get into financial troubles. The website www.needhelppayingbills.com-ut is a terrific website that will help you find financial help and how to apply for assistance programs in all cities and counties in Utah. Residents who qualify can receive grants for paying utility bills, free medical care, rent or mortgage help. It gives you info on the Food Stamp (EBT cards) program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) as well as free legal aid, benefits for the disabled, social services and emergency assistance.
The Climate Prediction Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicts that this winter will be dryer in Southern Utah and the entire region is forecast to record above normal warmer temperatures. For weather geeks like me this year is another La Nina year-just like 2020. But the good news is October brought an early snowpack and sometimes La Nina surprises us and we end up with less snow in the valleys and above average flakes for the mountains. Last year Alta celebrated 553” of snow and we can all fast on Impossible Whoppers and pray to Cryokinesis, the Goddess of Snow for another banner year.
In Utah, Dominion Energy offers help for customers experiences hardship in paying their gas bills. They suggest for any customer to consider a gas Budget Plan that divides an estimated annual gas bill into 12 equal payments. That way instead of paying $300 in January you might just pay $60 a month every month. Commercial customers can also ask for a six month break on past-due balances. To make arrangements, email email@example.com or call 800-323-5517