Denison sees February gas bill near-double the amount paid in all of 2020

Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 7:14 PM CST
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DENISON, Kan. (WIBW) - When the 180 person town of Denison faced sub-zero temperatures earlier this month, the people who live there did what they had to stay warm.

Denison’s demand, however, showed up in the daily price per heating unit from February 12th to the 16th, four very cold days.

Normally, the city pays about three dollars per heat unit (MMBtu) but by the end of the week, it reached $375 per unit and ultimately peaked a few days later at $622 per unit.

The city informed its residents about the situation in a letter during the peak of prices.

“When I first heard it I thought, ‘oh, that can’t be right we’ve had people call here asking “did you have a typing error? or need a decimal in there?’ I know that wasn’t a typing error it was $622,” Denison City Council President Vickie Wold said Wednesday.

“We didn’t have an option we had to have gas and our people needed to keep warm homes needed to keep warm and it was out of our hands.”

By Wednesday afternoon, the city learned the estimate for the gas bill hovered at about $241,400.

For comparison, the city spent about $125,000 in gas for all of 2020.

Sam Mills, the Managing Director of Electric Operations for the city’s gas purchaser, Kansas Municipal Gas Association (KGMA), said the non-profit buys gas for each day the morning ahead but doesn’t find out the price they’ll pay until the time the markets close.

“The severe weather event was a perfect storm,” Mills said.

“The Friday before we ended up purchasing for four days: because of the President’s Day holiday: Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday because the markets weren’t open Monday.”

The city doesn’t want its customers to pay bills up to a thousand times more than their normal cost.

“I don’t know anyone in town who could just pay it,” Wold said.

“Just having your gas bill doubled is ugly but we’re talking something people won’t be able to sustain.”

Someone will need to cover the cost of the bill and the consequences could be dire for the city.

“We won’t have anyone to fix the streets we won’t have anyone to be available to turn your water off if you’re working on your water line all those things will be gone,” Wold said.

The city says what can save them now is a loan that’s being worked on through KGMA.

They’ve contacted the Governor’s Office and Kansas’ Washington delegation for help.

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