At the start of the year people started receiving their monthly expenses like usual but discovered the prices were anything but normal.
According to a notice sent by New Mexico Gas Company last year, the company experienced a 36% hike in the cost of gas purchased on behalf of customers since September 2021.
“We don’t make any profit on the gas we purchase for our customers. Our company paid to purchase this gas and then we were authorized to recover the extraordinary gas costs beginning in July 2021,” the notice said.
NMGC said a portion of the monthly bill would include recovery of those costs.
“We do everything we can to purchase gas at the lowest price available, and you pay what we pay, no more and no less,” it said.
But even with the notice, some are struggling to keep up with the bills.
Belinda Sandoval, of Mariposa, is surprised by the increase amount.
“Our gas bill increased from $85 to $128. That is $43 higher. According to the Gas Co, the increase was supposed to be about $4 per household. I realize we are outsourcing our gas now, but why so high? We turned our thermostat down. I guess I’ll just wear a sweater inside,” she said.
As Rio Rancho residents deal with rising utility costs, others are finding innovative ways to save money.
North Hills resident Karl Luedemann says he uses electric heating, which is cheaper than gas at the moment.
“I have been running electric heating since my last gas bill as a cheaper supplement to my old gas furnace,” he said.
PNM Electric also filed for a rate increase in December but estimates a minimal increase of about 75 cents per month by 2024.
Ron Darnell, the senior vice president of public policy, said the rate increase that PNM is asking for is “significantly offset” by the savings from the closure of the San Juan Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant west of Farmington, a choice PNM made while managing the transition to renewable energy.
“It does not include other line items on your bill, including what customers pay for fuel,” he said.
However, people who have not updated their meter in a while are recommended to do so because it could cause faulty reading.
Here is a link on how to read your meter from PNM.
PNM states the price increase is part of the transition to cleaner energy, which is a push many companies are making in New Mexico.
New Mexico Gas Company has a few suggestions for gas users in order to lower costs.
To minimize energy costs during colder months:
- Turn your thermostat down.
- Use the free Home Energy Analyzer for recommendations that could help save hundreds of dollars through energy efficiency measures: nmgc.energysavvy.com
- Weatherize your home to save energy and money, and to improve your comfort.
- Clean or replace filters on your furnace.
- Clean warm-air registers, vents, baseboard heaters and radiators. Make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
- Open drapes and shades on your south-facing windows during the day to allow warm sunlight to enter. Close them at night to reduce the chill from cold windows.
NMGC also shared some assistance programs that could help with prices:
- LIHEAP is a residential assistance program through the New Mexico Human Services Department that offers winter heating assistance for income-qualified customers: www.nmgco.com/en/low_income_assistance
- The Salvation Army administers NMGC’s HEAT New Mexico fund. It is available to help income-qualified residential customers pay their winter heating bills: www.nmgco.com/en/HEAT_For_Help
- The NM Home Fund offers rental, mortgage and utility assistance through the State of New Mexico: nmhomefund.org
- The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority administers Energy$mart, an energy efficiency program for income-qualified customers to help improve the energy efficiency of their homes and lower utility bills: www.housingnm.org/home-repair-and-energy-efficiency/energymart-weatherization-assistance