Tribune-Courier News Reporter
It’s not often a citizen’s utility bill goes down, but for the almost 6,000 users of the Benton Gas System that’s exactly what is about to happen.
Starting Nov. 1, users of the system will see a five percent rate decrease, bringing their $8 per 1,000 cubic feet rate to $7.60.
The new rate is approximately 31 percent below the national average of $11.
“This is the fifth year out of six years that we’ve brought our prices down,” said Benton Gas System Manager Kelly Collins. “Because we switched the way we buy our gas we’re able to keep our prices low.”
The reduction in prices, he said, is attributed to the city’s adoption of a new gas-purchasing system that Benton Gas Systems began using.
“We went through a broker that purchased gas for us and locked us in for one-year time periods,” he said. “We still go through a broker now, but I review the prices now and manage when we make fuel purchases. Sometimes I check the prices hourly.”
The Benton Gas System purchases gas in advance and keeps a reserve so that when it’s at a higher market price customers don’t see a higher bill.
Collins said he’s already purchased some of the gas that will be used in April through October of next year, saying when prices are low he buys to keep expenses low on customers.
The system has gone beyond the city’s limits, and has added more than 20 miles of line in the past few years.
He said no lines were being added now, but he hopes to continue the trend of growth in upcoming years.
As of now there is a waiting list for people to be added to the system.