(The central square) – Illinois communities facing staggering natural gas bills receive temporary state aid.
In an emergency session Thursday, the Illinois Finance Authority voted to provide low-interest loans to lower-state communities like Morton, Divernon, Auburn and Riverton.
“Our February gas bill, which we currently estimate at $ 4.6 million, we believe $ 3.5 million is due to pricing, ”Morton Mayor Jeff Kauffman said.
In winter, municipalities generally pay between $ 2 and $ 3 per decatherme of natural gas. After the deep frost that hit Texas, it shot up to $ 225 per decatherm last week.
Rod Molnar, clerk for the village of Divernon, said his community needed help as his bill was over $ 600,000 this month.
“To give you an idea, our bill last month was $ 66,000, so we’re looking at a huge increase and success for a small community like ours, ”Molnar said.
Pritzker hopes the federal government can provide direct assistance to communities affected by the high prices. The state loan program is only a temporary relief and will have to be repaid over time, most likely by the townspeople.
“The authority is by law a financial lending agency, ”said Chris Meister of the Illinois Finance Authority. “The money the authority is going to deploy is a loan, not a grant.”
The loans will have an interest rate of one percent.
Communities struggling with huge natural gas bills have contracted with private companies. Some of the larger natural gas companies like Nicor and Ameren are able to store supplies from spring and summer in anticipation of cold weather.
A spokesperson for Ameren said the company has 10 different pipelines that supply it with natural gas, as well as 12 underground storage fields that allow the purchase of natural gas in the spring and summer for use in the summer. winter. About 30% of the company’s supply is subject to price fluctuations due to its stored gas and hedging policy.