EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE officials were hit with an unpleasant surprise when they discovered the cost of natural gas units skyrocketed over the weekend.
“Typically, we pay $3 a dekatherm but that price went up to $130 a dekatherm,” said Vice Chancellor for Administration Morris Taylor.
The cost has since gone down. The university lowered building thermostats to 68 degrees to try and offset the spike. That’s 2 to 4 degrees lower than normal.
The university purchases its natural gas on the open market. That’s one reason the price spiked for SIUE. A major surge in demand due to extreme cold temperatures and frozen natural gas fields in other parts of the country have led to an increase in prices. The university is examining its process for purchasing natural gas in the future.
“What we’re trying to do right now is to rethink some of our operations to put us in less liability,” Taylor said.
Ameren Illinois purchases approximately 30 percent of its natural gas on the open market, meaning its customers are not expected to see the type of increase SIUE experienced.
“We actually buy gas in the summertime and put it in underground storage sites in Illinois,” said Eric Kozak, vice president of natural gas operations for Ameren Illinois.
Those 12 storage fields help the company bolster its supply.
“We take that gas out in the winter when the prices tend to be higher so we can keep the prices down for our customers,” Kozak said.
He encourages customers to conserve but does not expect Ameren Illinois customers to see the type of skyrocketing prices other parts of the country could experience.
“They will see an increase,” Kozak said. “But it won’t be dramatic like we’re seeing on some of the other newscasts.”