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Natural gas customers report major increase in utility bills in aftermath


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NEW HAVEN, Mo. – Huge gas bills have folks up in arms in small towns across Missouri, like New Haven.

The blast of arctic air last month is now being followed by bills that are four times as much as usual. People want something done,

“I think somebody’s getting rich off this whole deal,” said resident Pat Swann.

Swann’s monthly winter heating bill is usually $90; February’s bill was quadruple that amount.

“$360 a month is robbery,” she said.

Natural gas was flowing fast through the pipes here during the bitter cold. New Haven Police Chief Christopher Hammann owns a home that was built before the American Civil War. In January, his gas bill was $240. Last month, it jumped to more than $1,000.

“Anytime a situation like this occurs, they need to investigate all avenues,” Hammann said. “If price gouging was done, then those people should pay those consequences.”

New Haven Alderman Tim Otten said they’ve reached out to state leaders.

“We’re trying to get the attorney general on board,” he said. “The calls are in place, all the complaints have been filed, now it’s in his court to take care of the situation.”

Otten wants Governor Mike Parson to declare an emergency. The alderman said the cost of gas went from $3 to $225 for three days before dropping.

“This is pure and outright price gouging,” he said. “That’s why we’re bringing this attention to Missouri.”

The Pinckney Bend Distillery is one of the major users of natural gas in New Haven. They expect their gas bill will only jump by as little as 40 percent. That’s because they shut down for eight days during the cold spell to save money but, more importantly, they wanted to make sure fellow citizens would stay safe and warm.

“We were afraid we were going to push supplies into a state where other people would be caused to go offline, so we chose not to,” said Tara Steffens, the distillery’s COO.

The governor said last month he increased energy help for low-income Missourians and made it tougher to disconnect customers. The attorney general also has a price-gouging complaint form on his website for natural gas customers.

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