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We Energies customers see beginning of 2023 gas price hikes

"It's not like the price of the gas for a car, you can’t just drive less to save money. You can’t just lower the temperature of the house in the winter, you’re living there," said Amir Hesamian.
Higher heating costs projected for this winter amid pandemic
Posted at 9:51 PM, Jan 13, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-14 15:45:21-05

The heated debate over gas bills continues. We Energies’ rise in rates officially took hold for customers at the start of this year.

Though the company announced last month there will be an increase in customers’ monthly bills, it’s the first time people are seeing it on their invoices.

Over the span of a year, Whitefish Bay resident Amir Hesamian has been noticing the number on his gas bill go higher and higher.

“When I compare my bill from this time last year is a gradual increase in the price of natural gas and it's really concerning,” said Hesamian.

He knew the global demand for natural gas would raise costs but wasn't understanding some of the added costs shown on his bill for 2023. He called We Energies to find out and was told the rising cost of natural gas is forcing the hands of distributors to bring those costs to a boil.

But that didn’t answer all of Amir’s questions.

“It doesn't explain the price in the fixed fee, the distribution fee of the natural gas, why it has increased too. Is it because of the inflation too? I didn't get a convincing answer.”

So why did the distribution fee rise along with those natural gas prices?

Back in December, the Public Service Commission approved a rate hike of 11% or roughly $132 more annually for each homeowner.

That includes an increase in those fixed fees to the tune of about $5 a month on every bill.

Brendan Conway, a spokesperson for We Energies, says that cost is paying for the projects they are doing to strengthen their distribution system.

“We’re building some new LNG facilities in Jefferson and Walworth counties so in the future we’ll be able to actually save money on natural gas,” said Conway.

But that isn't stopping those bill totals from reaching concerning levels for the people paying them.

“This is Wisconsin,” said Hesamian. “There are long winters here and if every month you have to worry about something keeps going up and up, that’s concerning.”

He’s not alone in that concern, which is shown by the number of service calls providers have seen over the past few years.

“We tend to see more calls at the temperature drops and bills tend to go up in the winter time kind of every year, but it has been remarkable the past few years,” said Conway.

So, what can you do to help those costs?

Providers say consumers can keep heat inside their home by insulating windows and changing furnace filters to make it operate more efficiently in your home, and those savings will add up.

You can also contact your energy providers to work out payment plans.

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