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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Winter heating bills aren’t top of mind for anyone on a 90-degree, August day. But natural gas companies are warning customers now that when temperatures start to fall, their natural gas bills are going to drastically increase.

“There will be an impact for sure and I’m sorry I can’t give a better indication of what percent increase that will be, but we’re aware of the gas market and we know there will be an increase for sure,” said Spire Missouri’s Vice President of Regulatory and Legislative Affairs Scott Weitzel.

He said the normally boring natural gas market has been jumping all over the place for the last year or more.

COVID-19 made production harder and occasionally drove up demand. A bad winter storm in February 2021 made much of the nation try to heat their homes during a massive cold snap all at once. After Russia invaded Ukraine, it intermittently withheld its natural gas supply from Europe, driving up prices all over the globe.

Missouri gas providers set their costs every November, so right now, natural gas bills on that side of the state line haven’t changed.

“It’s not reflective of the market so right now customers are insulated from that,” Weitzel said.

Kansans aren’t so lucky.

“Our August Mcf, the unit that we bill in, is right now at $8.37,” said Kansas Gas Public Relations Manager Dawn Tripp. “This time last year, it was at $5 per Mcf.”

That’s a more than 65% increase.

Tripp said gas providers can’t mark up the price of that product and even with fees for delivery and equipment staying the same, the bills have already started to go up in Kansas. But since the warm weather means people don’t have very much to heat up, bills haven’t jumped in the way that would make consumers like Joe Sakumura notice.

“Almost not at all,” Sakumura said. “It’s hot, so I think naturally everyone just looks at their A/C bill and water and that sort of thing and not at natural gas at all.”

Once we start using more natural gas, Tripp said it’ll be easy to see the difference.

“Because the cost of gas is right now the most significant and largest portion of a customer’s bill,” Tripp said.

“I’d not thought about it up until recently but it’s definitely scary, really scary,” Sakumura said. “Something people should be budgeting for.”

Both Spire and Kansas Gas have a handful of different ways to get assistance covering those bills for people who struggle with them.

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