Wichitans cranking up their thermostats this weekend can expect to pay around the same as last year — if not less — to heat their homes, according to two of the areas largest energy companies.
Temperatures in Wichita and much of Kansas is expected to dip below freezing on Sunday, with a high of 44 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
Although natural gas energy prices are expected to increase by 15 percent in the Midwest this winter, according to the Department of Energy, prices in Wichita should stay the same as last year or drop, a spokeswoman for Kansas Gas Service said on Friday.
The wholesale cost of gas is about 20 percent less than last winter, said Dawn Tripp, public relations manager for the Kansas Gas Service.
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“We’re expecting the average Kansas Gas Service customer to pay approximately 9 percent less to heat their home this winter than last winter heating season,” Tripp said.
Black Hills Energy said its customers can expect to pay about the same price for natural gas this winter compared to previous winters.
“While prices can change quickly due to unforeseen weather or production events, Black Hills Energy anticipates prices will remain steady during the heating season,” said Jerry Watkins, general manager of gas operations in Kansas at Black Hills Energy, in a news release.
Both companies cited usage as major cost-drivers for gas customers heating their homes. During colder winters, people tend use more energy.
Kansas Gas Service charges a fixed monthly charge of $16.70. It is requesting a fee hike to $22.66 a month from the Kansas Corporation Commission. The fixed amount covers the cost of delivering natural gas.
Black Hills Energy charges a fixed monthly charge of $17.25 a month, according to its website.
Both companies say they charge market price for natural gas on top of their fixed charges and extra surcharges.