City Pursues Remedies for Increase in Natural Gas Bills

Current participants of the City of Bowling Green’s natural gas aggregation program will see an increase in their bill from Volunteer Energy Services Inc. for natural gas consumed during the February usage period, and the City is pursuing remedies to the situation.

Volunteer Energy Services Inc. is the competitive retail gas supplier that provides the natural gas that is delivered to the aggregation participants.  Volunteer Energy has already begun to send out the March bills, which include an additional charge of $0.91 per Mcf. Volunteer Energy’s rationale for the increased charge is that, due to the extreme cold during the period of Feb. 5-Feb. 20, 2021, they were forced to purchase significant quantities of natural gas from the spot market to meet increased customer demand and that the cost of those purchases was significantly higher than normal.  Volunteer Energy has stated that this additional increase in rate would be for one month only.

As the natural gas program aggregator for customers in Bowling Green, the City does not agree that Volunteer Energy has the ability to increase customers’ rates in this manner. After a preliminary review, the City of Bowling Green Utilities Department believes that this is a breach of its contract and is reviewing options to take the necessary steps to protect program participants, including obtaining refunds to those customers for all bills that have been paid.

Bowling Green is working with AMPO, Inc., the City’s administrator of the natural gas aggregation program, to take the appropriate actions in concert with the city. These actions will include pursuing remedies to ensure that participants are made whole.  In the meantime, customers should pay their bill to ensure they do not incur late charges.

Questions may be directed to the Utilities Director’s Office by calling 419-354-6246.

Additional Details:

  • The City had no part in approving the additional charge and it was done by Volunteer Energy alone.
  • The latest one-month increase is different than the price change letter that Volunteer issued in February for a FERC regulatory decision.
  • According to Volunteer, the latest one-month increase is due to natural gas market price increases between February 5 to February 20.
  • The City believes this additional cost should not be passed to the customers and is working with AMP to find a remedy.  There is no guarantee the City/AMP will be successful.
  • Customers can opt-out of the City’s aggregation program at no charge and at any time.  The customer can select another gas supplier for their gas service.  A list of available gas suppliers can be found on the PUCO website or the customer can select to be put on Columbia Gas – Standard Choice Offer.  The customer needs to contact the new supplier or Columbia Gas (for the SCO) if they wish to switch gas supplier.
  • The customer’s gas bill will still come from Columbia Gas, regardless of who they select as their gas supplier, or if they stay in the City’s aggregation program.