Rising gas rates worry Calera residents

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Cold winter weather and higher gas bills are a staple of December and January in Alabama, but drastically higher gas bills caused some Calera residents to bombard City Hall with complaints and demand answers.

Utility staff responded by saying that a lapse in billing dates and colder weather was the culprit, aside from a few isolated billing errors.

One Calera resident and gas customer, Patsy Harris, asked council members during their meeting last week if any investigation had begun into her gas bill, which she said had increased more than twice as high than usual to $300.

Harris told council members that she lives with her husband only, and they use less than the average amount of gas each month.

To keep costs low, Harris said she had lowered her home’s thermostat to 55 degrees.

She has been using an electric blanket and her dog even wears sweaters.

&uot;I cannot keep paying $300 gas bills. My meter is wrong,&uot; Harris said.

Calera Public Works Director David Jones insisted that Calera’s natural gas rates are slightly lower than other providers, including Alagasco.

He and Calera Mayor George Roy agreed to have Harris’ meter tested for accuracy.

Calera City Clerk Linda Steele said her office was busy the first week in February handling complaints from gas customers.

She said some staff even had to work over the weekend to field complaints.

According to Steele, many customers were comparing their November gas bill with their December bill.

Steele said November was very mild, with only one day when temperatures dropped below freezing