Gov. Parson warns natural gas companies to not price gouge Missourians

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is asking the attorney general to investigate high natural gas prices after this week’s bitter cold temperatures. 

The governor is warning natural gas companies to not take advantage of Missourians during this arctic blast. Parson is asking the attorney general to get involved because he’s concerned about companies’ price gouging. 

During his briefing Thursday, he said the state might be able to help some individuals pay for their increased electric bill.

“It’s frustrating and I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for sticker shock when a lot of people get their bills,” Parson said. “I think every state and I think other governors are going to be looking at the same thing: What is the cause of this and what, who is benefiting from this?”

Some experts say Missourians might have to foot the bill for using extra energy, which caused rolling blackouts in some parts of the state. Parson said with the cold temperatures, he understands the supply and demand of natural gas. 

“I realize shortages of whether it’s fuel, whether it’s natural gas or whatever it might be, but I don’t want anybody taking advantage of that either because we’ve only been in this a few days and suddenly prices are skyrocketing before you’ve even eliminated the shortage capacity for some of these companies,” Parson said. 

Parson said the state will investigate natural gas companies to make sure Missourians aren’t being taken advantage of. He said his office has received numerous calls about the huge price increase in natural gas. 

“We will not tolerate any effort to price gouge or take advantage of customers at a time when there is no other choice or alternative options,” Parson said. 

The governor said there is a possibility of the state activating an emergency declaration, but he wants to look into the price surges first. 

“We have some options out there to help those communities, but first of all, you have to figure out what the source was,” Parson said. “Just because we are finding a way to pay some corporation money that’s making millions and millions of dollars off a natural disaster.”

He wants any Missourian who thinks they’ve been a target a price gouge to call the Missouri Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-392-8222. 

“We do have the ability to help in some situations, especially for individuals like we are,” Parson said. “I’m but sure what it’s going to come down to for cities and counties and try to backfield that loss.”

Earlier this week, Parson’s office announced an improvement to the Energy Crisis Intervention Program for low-income Missourians. 

“This will make it faster and easier to resolve a household crisis situation and ensure we keep Missourians safe and healthy especially during this extreme weather,” Parson said. 

The program will pledge up to $800 to help pay for a participant’s balance toward a household’s energy source. In order to be eligible for the program, you must be responsible for paying home heating costs and have less than $3,000 in the bank, investments or retirement accounts. 

Also, during his briefing, Parson was asked if he received his COVID-19 vaccine since he is eligible under Phase 1B-Tier 2.

He said he and the first lady received their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine last week and had no side effects other than a sore arm. Parson said they were put on a list in Cole County and had to wait like everyone else. 

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