During a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on Sept. 28. U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, M.D. pressed Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Richard Glick about an investigation into potential natural gas market manipulation and price gouging that may have occurred across Kansas during the February cold snap.
In response to Senator Marshall’s questioning, both Chairman Glick and Commissioner Christie confirmed the natural gas price spike during the February cold snap is under investigation by FERC’s enforcement division and furthered the investigation should be complete in a matter of months.
During the hearing, Senator Marshall said,
“I just want to make sure you all are feeling the same pain that Kansans are feeling from the economic cost of the February winter events. An average family home like I grew up in, three bedrooms, two baths – natural gas probably about $80, $90, $100 a month. That cost was $2,500 for the month of February. And what they are going to do is take that over the next 10 years and let people pay off that debt. And it feels like we are just piling on when it comes to energy costs. We are already paying 40% more at the gas pump and the cost of natural gas has more than doubled since this Administration has taken over. I think what the people of Kansas want to know is who made the money – who made all that money on that increase. Is there an investigation under way and what would be a reasonable timeline for the people of Kansas to know the truth about this?”
The cold weather snap in February impacted much of the Midwest and eastern U.S., putting extreme pressures on the nation’s natural gas and propane supply.
Freezing conditions prevented new energy generation in many sectors, putting additional pressures on natural gas supplies for electrical generation.
A sharp increase in demand causes natural gas prices to jump more than 100-percent of normal costs. As a result, natural gas and electrical rates paid by Kansas communities, businesses and homeowners reached record levels. For example:
Winfield, Kans. incurred $8.5 million of additional natural gas expenses that it will now have to pass on to residents and small business owners.
A Kansas manufacturer, Sugar Creek Packing, was charged $628,463 for their February gas bill, an increase nearly 30 times greater than expected.
Senator Marshall requested the original hearing on this matter that took place in March in a letter to Chairman Joe Manchin and Ranking Member John Barrasso.
Additionally, Senator Marshall and Representative Sharice Davids urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate the cause of system failures during the February cold snap and determine if any wrongdoing caused Kansans’ energy bills to skyrocket.