MORTON, Ill. (WMBD) — Morton officials continue to ask residents to watch their natural gas consumption through the end of the month and warn about the potential of much higher bills than usual.
The difference between Morton and everywhere else? Morton has the largest municipal natural gas company in Illinois, meaning it is owned and operated by the public.
Aside from a few pockets in town, Morton residents do not depend on gas distributors like Ameren.
Craig Loudermilk, Public Services Director for Morton, said the city has spent more on natural gas in the last six days than is usually spent in an entire year.
This has never happened before and Loudermilk is warning residents that their bills could be up to five times higher than usual.
“So, if you can still put off things and conserve, keep the thermostat down through the end of February, you know that would be my recommendation. Just to keep your bills as low as they can (be),” said Loudermilk.
Morton contracts and buys from natural gas pipelines in Texas and Oklahoma. Most of the natural gas is transported by Panhandle Eastern Pipeline to Morton.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott on Wednesday, Feb. 17, ordered Texas gas producers to sell fuel to in-state generators only.
Loudermilk said the precarious situation in Texas could further impact Morton’s natural gas supply, but is hoping things get better by Sunday, Feb. 21, when the nation is expected to thaw from the deep freeze.
“We’re a little nervous about that and what that might do to the market and the gas supply coming up to the Midwest…Hopefully, that’s not the case. We appreciate Texas, and we hope they share with us up here in the Midwest,” he said.
Ameren Illinois spokesperson Tucker Kennedy said the company is also encouraging its customers to conserve usage if possible as a way to save on their monthly bills and reported their gas system load is up 35% compared to the same time last year.