Winchester Working to Ease Burden of Natural Gas Bill on Consumers

By Jeremy Coumbes on March 2, 2021 at 10:55am

The Winchester City Council is finalizing a plan to help residents manage their utility bill balance following last month’s natural gas price surge.

The City Council met in special session last night to work out how to mange the city’s balance of natural gas costs without dumping high bills on consumers all at one.

The Council agreed on an ordinance approving the city’s participation in the Local Government Energy Loan Program, that was called for by Governor J.B. Pritzker last week.

Winchester Mayor Rex McIntyre says if approved for the program, it will allow the city to spread out the balances for customers to make their back balance easier to manage.

Residents will be shown what the balance is on their bill based on their consumption in February. But we are going to charge them payable for February just the rate from January. That will leave a substantial balance, and we are going to charge them three percent of that balance per month.

In other words, if you have a fifteen hundred dollar bill and you pay three hundred, that means you’ll have a twelve hundred dollar remaining balance, and we’ll expect you to pay three percent on that a month. So three percent of twelve hundred would be thirty six dollars.”

McIntyre says the monthly payment on the back balance will coincide with the three year term of the low interest loan through the state.

He says Winchester’s overall natural gas consumption was just a little higher last month than in January, and that given the extreme cold temperatures, it seems residents tried to conserve as much as possible to avoid the high balances.

McIntyre says he is hopeful that the city could yet see some relief on the charges.

The big consumers are the ones that are going to have the big bills obviously. Now, It’s my hope after talking with our gas suppliers, I talked to two different guys there today. It’s my hope that they will get some litigation done.

They’ve got lawyers working on it where they are going to try to get this rolled back. Because, and I agree with them, we conclude that we are being robbed by Panhandle Eastern. They think there is a really good chance that a lot of this money is going to be coming back to us.”

McIntyre says Winchester figures to be charged just shy of seven times the January price for natural gas from the surge.

He says the city will find out today what their final rate of charge for February will be.