Copyright © 2021 Albuquerque Journal
New Mexico residents shouldn’t expect to be immune from massive natural gas prices expected in coming months.
New Mexico Gas Co. is forecasting this October’s cost of gas to be 179% higher than last October’s, company officials said Thursday. And although the numbers are not yet finalized, the company projects a 135% increase for November, according to company spokesman Tim Korte.
“These are pretty dramatic increases in the amount and the price for gas over the last 12 months,” Korte said.
In addition to global market forces, New Mexico is experiencing two other phenomena that are driving up prices, said Josh Tilbury, director of gas management for New Mexico Gas Co.
First, until about a year ago, there was more production in the Permian Basin than could be moved to market. Companies that could transport the abundance of natural gas – including New Mexico Gas Co. – benefited in the form of lower prices. But in the last 12 months, new pipelines have gone into service, and the competition for supply has resulted in an increase in the price of natural gas from the Permian, Tilbury said.
New Mexico Gas Co. is also trying to slowly recoup the cost of all the natural gas that was used during the deep freeze that hit New Mexico and Texas in February by increasing customers’ bills $5-10 a month until December 2023, according to Korte.
The company wants its customers to know that it doesn’t make a profit on the price of gas. Regulators don’t allow it.
“But ultimately we are subject to the market,” Tilbury said.
Korte said assistance programs are available to New Mexicans. Some are run by the state and some tap into federal COVID-19 relief money. There are programs for renters, for homeowners, for small businesses.
New Mexico Gas Co. can help match customers to the right programs. Korte urges people to call 1-888-664-2726 to discuss their situation.
“We’re here to help,” Korte said. “It’s been difficult. It’s been a hard year – hard 18 months – for a lot of people, and we want to help our customers.”