https://traffic.libsyn.com/secure/climateconnections/CX220222.mp3

This winter, natural gas prices have soared, and many people are struggling to pay their heating bills.

David Kolata is with the Citizens Utility Board, a consumer advocacy group in Illinois.

“We’re looking at bills that are 50-60% higher than they were last year,” he says. “And it’s a very difficult winter here for Illinois consumers, particularly in the city of Chicago.”

He says several factors have contributed to the high price of natural gas.

Chicago’s gas utility has been spending heavily to upgrade gas pipelines. Natural gas production slowed during the pandemic. And the industry is still recovering from last year’s cold snap, which froze gas wells in Texas.

“And you saw because of that, massive, massive price spikes that reverberated across the Midwest, and indeed across the country,” Kolata says.

He says natural gas is not just volatile in price. It’s bad for the climate. So he says there are plenty of reasons to transition from natural gas furnaces to electric heat pumps.

“The question is: Do we want to keep spending money in a system that we know needs to change because of climate, but also is increasingly unaffordable, when there are other options out there?”

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media