February 3, 2022
Minnesotans turned down the thermostat, wrapped themselves in electric blankets, put plastic over their windows and updated their furnaces to cut costs this winter, but in many cases saw no change on their heating bills.
“I’ve been a homeowner for eight years. This is the highest I’ve ever seen and the lowest I’ve had my heat turned down in those eight years,” said Erik Solis, a 38-year-old warehouse worker from St. Paul.
Solis said he saw his heating bill go up $100, or 60 percent more than the same time last year.
Supply and Demand
While January produced some frigid temperatures, local energy companies say their customers’ bills reflect a nationwide increase in natural gas costs, mostly due to supply and demand.
“Production has not rebounded from the pandemic and there’s greater demand in the country and through exports,” said Matthew Lindstrom, spokesman for Xcel Energy, a Minneapolis-based energy company that provides natural gas to 2.1 million customers in Minnesota and seven other states.
Minnesota Energy Resources, based in Dakota County, gave its customers a heads-up in October that this winter’s utility bills were going up.
“The price of natural gas has more than doubled this year and currently sits at the highest level in a decade,” the company wrote in a statement to its customers. “This increase is mainly due to tight supplies as well as a worldwide increase in demand for natural gas.”
Minnesota Energy Resources predicted a typical residential customer would pay $44 more a month compared to the year before.
Xcel expected an average customer to pay an increase of about $165 over the course of the winter — November through March — but said the freezing temperatures across the nation last year, specifically the ice storm that hit Texas in February, strained U.S. natural gas prices, tacking on an extra $65 to $70 for the winter, or an average of $13 to $14 a month.
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