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Temporary relief could be on the way for natural gas users

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Feb. 17, 2001
Customers of Mississippi Valley Gas may get at least a temporary reprieve from high gas prices thanks to Mother Nature, according to a company executive.
Phil Hardwick, MVG vice president of community and economic development, said Friday warmer weather during the first few weeks of February may provide some relief for many of the company's 256,000 consumers, who have seen their natural gas bills increase by as much as 400 percent in recent months.
While customers may see a temporary decline in prices, Hardwick warned it may be two or perhaps even three years before natural gas prices stabilize during the winter season because of supply and demand issues nationwide.
Hardwick said the combination of low supplies of natural gas coupled with a large rise in demand and record cold temperatures were among the reasons for the extreme escalation of prices for the commodity.
When the storage supply of natural gas builds back up Hardwick said that's when the rates should go back down.
With dozens of new electric power plants being built around the state in recent years, most of which produce electricity with natural gas, Hardwick said consumption of natural gas has been at an all time high in the state.
Hardwick said recent weather patterns also played havoc with the supply and demand on natural gas this year. One comparison showed the winter season in 2000 was 65 percent colder in portions of Mississippi than the 1999 Winter season.
While Hardwick says natural gas suppliers are happy to provide services for a growing customer base he said the ultimate solution to the fuel energy crisis in America may rest in Washington D.C.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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