Frigid temperatures across much of the nation continue to drive an increased demand for natural gas and impact the supply, causing unprecedented price spikes.
In Texas and Oklahoma, numerous natural gas and oil fields have had to shut down production to protect equipment that would otherwise provide natural gas to the pipeline system. Some interstate natural gas pipelines are limiting flows into Illinois. This unprecedented combination of increased demand and decreased supply has created a volatile wholesale price market, increasing the cost we pay on a daily basis to provide enough gas to fuel our member's natural gas needs.
Jo-Carrol Energy does not yet know the full impact on the cooperative and our members but expect it will be significant. We are working with stakeholders and officials to determine what can be done to reduce the impact of higher bills due to spiking purchased gas costs because of this event.
ELIZABETH, IL - Jo-Carroll Energy is asking its members to use natural gas conservatively as demand remains high.
Extreme record cold temperatures driving an increased demand for natural gas are also impacting supply. In Texas and Oklahoma, numerous natural gas and oil fields have had to shut down well production to protect equipment that would otherwise provide natural gas to the pipeline system. Some interstate natural gas pipelines are limiting flows into Illinois.
The co-op is calling for energy conservation efforts to keep individual bills lower and to help mitigate the situation.
“As your natural gas provider, we are asking members to conserve natural gas as much as possible,” said Mike Casper, JCE president and CEO. “Taking a small step like lowering your thermostat can help. As a member-owned cooperative, we are all in this together. We are pursuing all avenues to deal with this unprecedented and extreme event.”
Suggested conservation steps during this significant cold weather situation include:
Set thermostats to 68 degrees or less (if safe to do so in your home or business).
Check furnace filters and replace if the filter is dirty.
Take advantage of the sun. Open your curtains during the day and close them at night.
Keep fireplace dampers closed unless a fire is burning.
Ensure all doors and windows remain shut.
Take steps to seal windows and doors as needed.
Wear layers when inside.
Use as little hot water as possible.
Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting.
Postpone using high-consumption appliances such as clothes dryers.
“We sincerely appreciate efforts by our members to limit natural gas usage,” Casper said. “We will continue to closely monitor this unprecedented situation as we seek ways to minimize the impact on our members.”
The cooperative cautions members that rising natural gas prices will mean increased bills. As extreme cold continues to grip much of the nation, utilities are seeing unprecedented spikes in natural gas market prices due to the increased use coupled with decreased production.
Jo-Carroll Energy does not yet know the full impact on the cooperative and its members but expects it will be significant, Casper said. He added the cooperative is working with other utilities and stakeholders to determine what can be done to lessen the impact on the bills of its members.
JCE has a number of tools to help members manage energy bills. Energy assistance programs such as LIHEAP and the co-op’s own Neighbor to Neighbor fund are available for eligible members. Other energy cost management tools include budget billing or levelized billing that can help spread annual energy costs out more evenly over a 12-month period.
Updates on the situation are being provided through the cooperative’s social media. Additional information can be found on jocarroll.com.
In another weather-related message, JCE reminds members to keep paths clear to their utility meters, specifically gas meters. The co-op is attempting to read meters, but many are drifted over from the recent snowstorms.
To keep your meter clear, follow these guidelines:
Maintain a path to the meter.
Carefully shovel near meters.
Remove snow and ice with hand, brush or broom.
Do not use sharp objects, salt or ice melting chemicals or hot water.
If the gas meter or regulator are covered in ice, contact Jo-Carroll Energy at 800-858-5522 and the co-op will send a technician to evaluate the situation.
If JCE is unable to read a meter, the member’s reading may be estimated. Future readings will reconcile the estimate.