A recent press release from MidAmerican Energy Company assures Iowans that they are here to help after the effects of the February cold snap.

In light of the recent cold snap that affected most of the central U.S., JEDCO member MidAmerican Energy Company sent out a press release on Wednesday, February 24, detailing what they are doing to mitigate the financial impacts their customers may be anticipating. With so many already struggling from the effects of the pandemic, they understand a rising gas and electric bill are the last thing their customers want.

“We understand that many are worried about an upcoming sticker shock for February heating, so we’re doing everything we can to lessen the financial burden on our customers,” Mike Gehringer, MidAmerican’s vice president of customer operations, said.

What to expect

According to company projections, residential customers in Iowa are likely to see, on average, March bills $13 higher than in February.  Higher gas bills will continue throughout the year as the effect of this increase is spread across months. When comparing that to the five-year annual average of a MidAmerican residential gas bill of $566, customers will see an estimated average increase of $214, or the equivalent of approximately $18 per month.

This is a little different for commercial customers in Iowa. Their average March bill will likely be $95 higher than that of February’s. Again, when compared to the five-year annual average bill of $2,233, customers will see an estimated increase of $1,182, or the equivalent of approximately $98 per month. 

These increases are not insignificant, but they are substantially lower in relation to much of the central U.S. Especially the staggering cost hikes seen in Texas and other parts of the South where their infrastructure was less equipped for that kind of cold.

What is MidAmerican doing to help Iowans?

Something important to note is that MidAmerican supplies gas to its customers as a pass-through cost without a mark-up or profit. Due to this unusually strong winter demand and sudden decrease in natural gas production in the Southern U.S., it led to extreme market jumps. Increasing costs on both ends. 

However, MidAmerican’s underground gas storage, liquified natural gas storage and advance purchase contracts that locked in prices prior to this month’s events, helped mitigate market price impacts to customers. Shielding customers from more than $400 million in costs.

The company also filed a request late Wednesday, February 24 with the Iowa Utilities Board. In their request, MidAmerican asked the board to suspend a rule requiring the company to collect all the February heating costs during a limited billing window that currently ends in August.

In addition to this, the company plans to discuss additional proposals at a scheduled meeting with the Iowa Utilities Board on March 12. It will include extending the payback period for February’s higher heating costs beyond August.

What can Iowans do right now?

“For nearly a year, customers have been dealing with extraordinary circumstances that have taken their toll and stretched paychecks,” Gehringer said. “We don’t want these increased bill amounts caused by the cold weather to be another worry. There are resources available to help.” 

MidAmerican recommends, for those who qualify, to apply for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). It assists eligible low-income households with their heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

The company also sponsors its own residential payment assistance program, called I CARE, managed by community action agencies throughout its service area. Through this program, members of the community can donate what they have to help local community action agencies provide heating and bill assistance and home weatherization to those in need in their neighborhoods. 

Finally, MidAmerican also offers a Budget Billing Program to help customers ease bill fluctuations. It’s a free program for customers and simply averages utility charges that vary by changing seasons and different energy usage patterns. Customers can enroll by calling MidAmerican at 888-427-5632, or through the My Account link on the company’s website at www.MidAmericanEnergy.com.