Natural gas, propane and electric prices up this year | SierraSun.com

Natural gas, propane and electric prices up this year

Paul Raymore
Sierra Sun

Though January’s temperatures have not been as cold as they can be, many Truckee residents are still feeling a chill when they take a look at their heating bills.

The price of natural gas, propane and electricity have all gone up during the last year, and it doesn’t look like relief is on the horizon for customers in the Truckee energy market.

Peggy Lindsay, who lives in downtown Truckee, has felt the effects of the higher prices.

“It’s certainly higher than it was last year,” Lindsay said. “I compare my gas bill to what it was a year ago. But all gas fuels have gone up, so it seems like it’s gone up in accordance with the rise in gas prices and oil prices.”

Lindsay estimated that she pays approximately $140 per month for electricity and around $230 per month for natural gas during the wintertime.

Other Truckee residents who heat their homes with natural gas reported monthly bills of more than $400.

Residents who rely on propane for their heating have noticed similar price increases this winter, as propane prices have soared to record highs.

Last year propane gas cost around $1.75 per gallon, this year it’s selling at close to $2 per gallon. That price is tied to a variety of factors including the cost of crude oil, which was trading at just over $49 per barrel this week.

“We have good years and bad years. But I’ve never seen anything like this year,” said Jan Barron, office manager at Truckee Tahoe Propane.

On the electric side, rates have been a little more steady, although customers of the Truckee Donner Public Utility District may soon see a $1 increase in their monthly customer charge for electricity if the district’s current budget plan is approved at the next board of directors’ meeting.

In addition, the Tahoe Donner Public Utility District and companies such as Truckee Tahoe Propane and Southwest Gas all give customers the option of enrolling in their equal payment plans. The programs help defray the effects of seasonal spikes in energy usage by distributing payments equally throughout the year.

According to Scott Terrell, director of planning at the Tahoe Donner Public Utility District, “For people on regular incomes, that makes it a lot easier to budget your money year round.”

Meanwhile, the high prices for propane, gas and electricity has made some people happy ” most notably those in the firewood business.

Many firewood retailers around Truckee and Lake Tahoe have reported that the spike in gas and electric prices as fueled a strong demand for firewood this season.

“After that first bill of the winter, usually people are on the phone ordering firewood,” said Lee Wetherbee, owner of A-1 Wetherbee Firewood which delivers to 11 cities in Northern California and Nevada, including Truckee.

“Our business has increased because of high prices [for other heating products],” Wetherbee said. “We haven’t actually raised our prices on firewood for three or four years and we’re still doing a tremendous business up in Truckee.”