Natural gas price increase spikes gas bills for Benson customers

Published: Mar. 17, 2023 at 9:26 PM MST
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BENSON, Ariz. (13 News) - Benson residents are sounding the alarm after getting their gas bills this month.

This comes as natural gas rates saw a big increase in February. In November, just one unit of gas was $1.39 and as of February, it was nearly $4.

Now many are wondering how to make ends meet with this high price.

City of Benson customer Debra Neff said her gas bill from this month is $242. She said that’s a large increase from the $100 that she’s used to.

“When I got it I was like, ‘How am I supposed to pay this?’ I don’t have that kind of money. I’m a senior on disability and there’s just no way,” she said.

She said the city gave her a notice saying there would be an increase but added that notice wasn’t good enough for a spike that high. “How am I going to plan for something like that? I have rent to pay and other utilities and I have doctor bills.”

Another Benson resident, Lisa Comfort, shared her bill as well and said she was hit hard with this month’s bill. The highest it has ever run is $180 and this month, she owes $650.

She said there was no choice but to pay the bill since the city of Benson controls many utilities.

“Benson here it’s gas, water, and sewage. It’s all on one bill. So you’re going to be losing three things if you don’t sit there and pay that bill,” Comfort said.

The Benson city clerk said they typically see a natural gas price increase in this area during the winter months. The city has a contract with Shell to purchase natural gas at the market rate, which then is supplied using El Paso Gas pipelines.

All small natural gas providers were affected, including Benson, Willcox, Safford and others.

She noted that other companies like Southwest Gas aren’t impacted by this hike because they use price stabilizers. This is something Benson plans to look into for next winter.

Right now, there’s not much to be done with these high bills other than just paying them. To help with some of these high prices, the city is offering payment plans as well as utility assistance programs.

“The fact is once you pay that bill what’s next month going to be? Is it going to be the same? Is it going to be higher? I don’t know,” yet another resident, Louis, said.

But many also have the same question Louis has. The city clerk said the market appears to be returning to normal and they expect prices to be reduced by the next billing cycle.