GOLDEN, Colo. (CBS4)- If you received a big natural gas bill for the month of February, you are not alone. That's the month that Texas got hit with a snowstorm and cold snap that crippled the natural gas energy industry there. Among those customers hard hit in Colorado is the Foothills Animal Shelter in Golden.
The animals there are nice and warm, but it comes at a cost. A big cost. Foothills Animal Shelter's natural gas bill for the month of February was $21,135, which is seven times more than a typical bill during the winter months.
"I was shocked absolutely. Disbelief. I thought it had to be a mistake," said Foothills Animal Shelter executive director Connie Howard.
It wasn't a mistake. The winter storm that pounded Texas in February had a big impact in Colorado. The Foothills Animal Shelter gets its natural gas from WoodRiver Energy which is not regulated by the state Public Utilities Commission. Those companies regulated by the PUC also were impacted and may try to recover costs from their customers in formal proceedings.
"From what I am told it was a supply and demand issue there was not enough supply and so pricing for gas and other energy is being done on a daily basis," said Howard.
WoodRiver Energy's website has a message about the weather's impact on the market. It also offers customers like Foothills a way to budget their payments rather than a variable plan. WoodRiver Energy responded to CBS4's questions stating that 25-30% of the nation's natural gas
supply froze during a period of historic demand that impacted much of the U.S. The company noted that 95% of its customers were protected by programs it markets that guarded against market volatility caused by the winter storm. But Foothills Animal Shelter would have preferred a warning.
"There are things we could have done on our end to cut down on the gas bill," said Jenny Homan with the Foothills Animal Shelter.
Those include things like consolidating the animals into a few rooms, although maybe not putting the dogs with the cats or the rooster with the pig. WoodRiver Energy said Foothills is not an interruptible customer and was contractually obligated to purchase and deliver their natural gas.
The energy company is giving Foothills a 20% break on the bill and has placed them on a monthly payment plan.
Meantime, the animals are just fine and waiting for someone to give them a home.
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