Natural gas increase seen coming — Semco Energy Gas

Published 8:12 pm Monday, November 3, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Semco Energy Gas Company's natural gas customers will see an increase in their gas bills starting in November.
A residential customer using 120 cubic feet of natural gas annually will see natural gas costs increase by approximately $7.58 per month.
The price hike is a result of the Michigan Public Service Commission's decision on Wednesday to approve Semco Energy Gas Company's 2003 to 2004 Gas Cost Recovery (GRC) plan.
The plan authorizes the company to charge up to $6.79 per thousand cubic feet through March 31, 2004.
The new rate reflects the price Semco Energy must pay to purchase natural gas from suppliers and doesn't generate profit for the company, said Francis Lieder, a Semco spokesperson based in Port Huron, Mich.
He said an increase in demand and lower-than-usual supply levels of natural gas has been tied to the increasing natural gas rates.
Lieder said the new rate affects approximately 233,000 residential, commercial and industrial Semco Energy customers throughout Michigan.
However, he said the rate change does not affect the company's 38,000 thousand customers in Battle Creek, where a three-year rate freeze is in effect through March 2005.
Semco offers several aid programs to assist families who may end up struggling with this winter's gas bills.
Among the company's six assistance programs is a crisis intervention program, a medical emergency protection program and a home weatherization plan.
The weatherization plan provides information about energy saving measures that can be installed on houses to possibly lower energy costs.
But Lieder said it is important to contact the company before service is subject for shutoff.
That way the company can work with people to set up suitable payment arrangements, or advise people of assistance agencies in the area they live.
Lower than usual supply levels, however, is not a reflection of there being little natural gas around.
He said it has been reported the Rocky Mountains are supposed to contain significant amounts of natural gas.
Lieder also said the Alaska Pipeline, which would give the U.S access to vast resources of natural gas, seems like it's years away from becoming a reality.
Semco Energy is a diversified energy and infrastructure company distributing natural gas to more than 385,000 customers in Michigan and Alaska.
It also owns and operates business involved in natural gas pipeline construction services, propane distribution, intrastate pipelines and natural gas storage in various regions of the U.S.
Semco takes its gas from Alberta, Canada.