Nebraska regulator’s cold weather rule now in effect for gas companies

Current weather conditions aside, Tuesday begins what the Nebraska Public Service Commission calls its “cold weather rule.”

The rule, which remains in effect until March 31, prevents Black Hills Energy and NorthWestern Energy, the two private natural gas companies regulated by the board, from cutting off service to customers who are struggling to pay their bills without giving them 30 additional days to Pay.

“All signs point to another year of rising heating costs,” Public Service Commission Chairman Dan Watermeier said in a news release. “By encouraging natural gas suppliers and consumers to work together, the cold weather rule helps keep heating going during the coldest time of the year.”

Natural gas prices have fallen more than 50% from their highs reached in August, but are still higher than they were this time last year, and experts said they could increase significantly once the weather cools.

Black Hills had 13,557 people subscribing to its annual fixed-price option to lock in gasoline prices for next year, the most since 2008.

The PSC said customers having difficulty paying their natural gas bills should contact their supplier to arrange payment. Local public assistance agencies can also be contacted for help with natural gas bills, including the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services and the Salvation Army.

The cold weather rule does not apply to communities served by municipally owned natural gas utilities.

The average US price for regular gasoline jumped 15 cents over the past two weeks to $4.38 a gallon. Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that the current price sits just a nickel below the all-time high average price of $4.43, set on March 11. SEE MORE: Rising beef prices almost unaffordable for many Americans The average price at the pump is $1.36 higher than it was a year ago. Nationally, the highest average price for regular gas is in the San Francisco Bay Area at $5.85 per gallon. The lowest average is in Tulsa, Oklahoma at $3.80 per gallon. According to the survey, the average diesel price climbed 43 cents over two weeks to $5.58 a gallon. Additional Associated Press reports.


Photos: Record cold in Lincoln

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Frost covers a window as the sun rises on Tuesday.


GWYNETH ROBERTS, newspaper star

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LINCOLN, NEB. – 02/16/2021 – A firefighter sits in a hazmat truck as he responds to a chlorine gas leak due to a ruptured pipe at the ADM plant at 540 South St., Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021 JUSTIN WAN, Newspaper Star


JUSTIN WAN Journal Star

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LINCOLN, NEB. – 02/16/2021 – Lincoln Fire & Rescue responds to a chlorine gas leak from a broken pipe at the ADM plant at 540 South St., Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021. JUSTIN WAN, Journal Star


JUSTIN WAN Journal Star

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Smoke curls from a chimney in central Lincoln on February 15.


GWYNETH ROBERTS, Journal Star file photo

Freezing temperatures, 2.16

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Lincoln Fire & Rescue responds to a chlorine gas leak from a broken pipe at the ADM plant at 540 South St. on Tuesday.


JUSTIN WAN, Newspaper Star

Freezing temperatures, 2.16

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Lincoln Fire & Rescue responds Tuesday to a chlorine gas leak from a broken pipe at the ADM plant at 540 South St.


JUSTIN WAN, Newspaper Star

Freezing temperatures, 2.16

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Henry Reimer helps his girlfriend Brenna Grochala start her car in the freezing cold on Tuesday.


JUSTIN WAN, Newspaper Star

Freezing temperatures, 2.16

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Brenna Grochala walks by a cloud of exhaust after her boyfriend was able to start his car on Tuesday.


JUSTIN WAN, Newspaper Star

Top photos from the Journal Star of February

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With sub-zero wind chills in the air, a squirrel jumps from one snow bank to another in Holmes Lake Park on Tuesday.


FRANCIS GARDLER, star of the Journal

Holmes Lake Feature, 2.9

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With sub-zero wind chills in the air, a lone blue jay perches on a branch Tuesday in Holmes Lake Park.


FRANCIS GARDLER, star of the Journal

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