Kim Johnson ReportingIf you haven't received your monthly natural gas bill yet, you might want to be seated when you open it up. Gas prices are not only high -- they are at an all-time high.
Utahns are feeling the cost of winter warmth and comfort in the pocketbook.
April McKiney: "We need to cut down on how much we're using. It's a lot worse here in the winter. We're from California so our gas seems to be a lot higher here."
For starters, you can blame your gas bill sticker shock on the weather. It's hard to remember now, but this time last year we were in the midst of a fairly mild winter. Temperatures were 25 percent warmer than usual. January this year is a different story, with temps 24 percent colder than normal.
Combine those facts with the price of natural gas, 21 percent higher than this time last year, and you have hefty bills.
Steve Chapman, Questar Gas Spokesman: "It would not be unusual for customers for January to see bills between sixty and eighty percent higher for the same month last year."
Chapman says the high price of gas is a classic supply/demand issue. Electric companies have created huge demand, because they've started using less coal, and more natural gas to generate power.
As for supply, companies -- including Questar -- have to buy on a national market.
Steve Chapman, Questar Gas spokesman: “A lot of times, prices we pay here are affected by weather conditions elsewhere in the country because you have markets that are controlled in other cities like New York and so forth."
Chapman says the cold snap in the East last month forced future prices up for natural gas. Utah consumers could feel the effect next July when Questar asks for another rate adjustment.