Commonwealth Journal

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January 15, 2014

Council offers credit to make up for cold snap

Concerns over utility customers feeling sticker shock on heating bills

Somerset —

Officials hope to help city utility customers avoid serious sticker shock when they open their February bills. 
Somerset City councilors during Monday’s meeting voted to offer a one-time credit to residential city utility customers and residential natural gas customers located outside the city in the wake of some of the coldest temperatures to sweep through in more than 15 years.
“We haven’t experienced that a long time,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler. 
Girdler said several city councilors had asked about a discount after temperatures in the area dipped near 0 degrees for two days straight on Jan. 6 and 7. Wind chills plummeted to a dangerous negative 20 degrees, approximately, in the overnight hours over the two-day stretch. 
Girdler said the weather even led to some “scary moments” when parts of the city’s extensive natural gas supply network began freezing up — namely, the pumps that send the natural resource across the state. 
“We’re not used to severe weather,” said Girdler. “If it stayed cold for weeks ... I think all of our systems would be in trouble so I think we need to account for that in the future.” 
Girdler said the system survived the cold snap, and he said the weather resulted in an increased demand for natural gas. 
“We can put that back to the people as a one time credit since it’s not happened in a decade.” said Girdler. 
Girdler suggested a one-time credit of $30 to go to electric and natural gas customers who live in the city. He also suggested a $15 credit for natural gas customers who live outside the city limits. 
The discount would be applied in February. 
“People on fixed income, $30 could be a whole lot,” said Councilor Jerry Wheel-don. 
The request was approved unanimously. 
“This is just a small way of saying we appreciate our cust-omers and helping them out,” said Girdler. 

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