Coping with high natural gas bills

Monday, January 16th 2006, 10:19 am
By: News On 6

Our weather is warmer than usual, but many are still paying big heating bills.

News on 6 anchor Craig Day found some folks during a double-take when they open their gas bills.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing." The only things in Irene Worten's Muskogee home that run on gas are her furnace and water heater. She always keeps her thermostat set on 69 degrees.

So Worten was surprised when she got a big gas bill. "There's just no rhyme or reason for it being that high."

The bill for December was $287, up $130 from the month before. At 85 and on a fixed income, the bill came as a shock. "They've been telling us they were going to be higher and I think everyone expected it. But not to triple you know."

A lot of people across Oklahoma face the same situation. Don Sherry with ONG: "We're aware of the fact that very high natural gas prices have a real impact on people financially right now. So we're doing our very best to work with our customers as best we can."

Oklahoma Natural Gas says the hefty bills are the result of several things, including the price of gas going up and Oklahoma's cold snap in early December. "It's very easy for us to forget because we've had balmy temperatures the past couple of weeks that in the early part of December, it was extremely frigid. We had several days of single digit temperatures."

As for Irene Worten, she's stopped using her furnace and has turned to two electric oil-filled radiator heaters for heat. She hopes the warm spell will continue and that she doesn't see another bill like last month's bill.

There are a lot of people across the state who are facing hefty bills. Oklahoma Natural Gas says it gets 16,000 customer service calls each day. They've added additional employees to handle the load.