New Mexico Gas Co. reported Wednesday natural gas rates have rocketed and may remain high through the winter.

High demand for natural gas nationally and globally has created the problem, executives of the company told the Public Regulation Commission this week.

Natural gas typically is used for heating homes and for gas cooking ranges and water heaters.

New Mexico Gas Co. executives said they have a system in which customers are protected from huge price spikes in November, December and January by hedging those high-use months through price ceilings agreed to by banks or large producers.

That price protection is included in a premium paid by the company and passed on to customers.

The protection covers the base rate of natural gas, or generally about 70 percent in a typical winter.

Customers still pay for a smaller volume, however, when additional natural gas is needed above the base amount. That smaller volume, called “swing gas,” is not affected by the price ceiling.

Tom Domme, a vice president and general counsel for the company, said his team will send letters to customers that explain why the prices are high and describe assistance programs.

Commissioner Theresa Becenti-Aguilar of northwestern New Mexico suggested to Domme the company briefly station staffers at grocery stores to distribute the information. Domme said he liked the idea and would consider various methods of outreach.

New Mexico Gas said it buys natural gas from producers and passes the cost of the gas to its customers without markup.

The company expects the average price of natural gas in January to be more than twice as high as it was in January 2021.

(28) comments

Derek Gzaskow

global warming will help...

Mike Johnson

Indeed, there are benefits to global warming....."Yes, there will probably be some short-term and long-term benefits from global warming. For example, the flip side of increased mortality from heat waves may be decreased mortality from cold waves.

In the short term, farmers in some regions may benefit from the earlier onset of spring and from a longer warm season that is suitable for growing crops. Also, studies show that, up to a certain point, crops and other plants grow better in the presence of higher carbon dioxide levels and seem to be more drought-tolerant." "In the long term, shipping commerce will benefit from the opening of the Northwest Passage for longer periods of the year due to the loss of Arctic sea ice. "

Robert Fields

There you go again, Mike - looking for that silver lining to destruction of the planet and kicking the legs out from under our food supply.

It’s not unlike looking at all the good that comes from dying in a head-on collision — No more having to work, lots of peace and quiet, no more bills or taxes, and more vacation time than you’ve ever had in your life. So much good comes from dying in a car crash. It’s a wonder more aren’t trying to do it.

Emily Koyama

Ah yes, Robert, a true standard bearer for the Democrat party....always exaggerating, overblowing, and fear mongering. The "sky" has been "falling for 5 decades....ever since they told us we were all going to freeze to death in the coming ice age.

Turns out it was just an animated movie.

Dottie Butler

Does anyone remember when Texas cut off New Mexico's natural gas flow for awhile a few years ago during the coldest part of the winter. It wasn't pretty.

Don't you think they might do that again if shortages begin to occur like some experts are predicting?

It could get to the point where you can't get natural gas or propane for any price for a stretch of time. It has happened before.

Russia has a lot to say about natural gas and propane supply to the world.

I doubt that they're gonna do us any favors.

Robert Fields

I absolutely remember that. Big parts of Bernalillo and Espanola were without gas for a few days - plenty long enough to freeze lots of pipes. It was pumping stations along the Texas border freezing up. It happened to Texas itself last winter.

Besides sidestepping the interruptions, folks can help reduce the climate pressures that cause this stuff. We are now seeing frequent interruptions in fossil fuel supplies, price hikes, and more environmental consequences of using fossil fuels.

People who can look ahead see the dangers in not moving away from such risky and dangerous fuels.

And you are absolutely correct about the foreign issues. Russia is about to extort the EU which will drive prices up here and may impact supplies, but any number of other threats to global and US supplies could also materialize.

Forgetting about the damage fossil fuels cause to the climate, people ought to at least be considering the consequences from an uncertain supply. No electricity. No heat. Rushing out to buy generators that may also have their fuel sources impacted is only a stopgap.

Mike Johnson

Your memory is faulty, the February 2011 gas outage had nothing to do with Texas "shutting off" gas to NM. The facts of what caused that were clear.....

Robert Fields

Actually, Mike, here is Senator Tom Udall’s Congressional testimony about what happened:

“According to the Texas grid operator power generators in Texas failed to provide their committed generation when it was needed the most. Rolling blackouts then resulted without consideration for the impact on gas infrastructure and the impact that would have on New Mexicans. Texas states that its electricity market is intrastate and thus they are exempt from many Federal electricity regulations such as those that require interconnections with other states. This may have been their Achilles heel during this severe winter storm.”

So I didn’t remember the exact cause correctly? Big deal. It is even worse than I was relating. Their grid was overtaxed and Texas power generators went into rolling blackouts. That shut pumping down in the permian basin. The pumps didn’t freeze initially. The loss of grid power shut them down and the result was the same. That’s like arguing over whether a gunshot or knife wound kills somebody. It’s important to the investigation but the person is still dead.

More of Udall’s testimony:

“Our testimony here today states that rolling blackouts in Texas caused critical natural gas supply infrastructure in the Permian Basin to fail.”

“Over 28,000 people lost natural gas home heating across our state. These outages range from Silver City to Alamogordo to Bernalillo, Placitas, Espanola, Dixon, Taos, Questa, and Red River. This happened at a time of record cold temperatures in New Mexico from near zero in the south to 30 below in the north. People lost service early morning Thursday, February 3rd and many were not restored until late Tuesday, February 8th in the coldest northern areas of our State, 5 nights and 6 days without heat.”

So it wasn’t pumps freezing up. It was Texas’ grid operators cutting power to the pumping stations. It was, however, pumps freezing up last year and a whole cascade of power failures. It’s too bad Texas didn’t have more alternative energy or maybe they could have avoided the issue.

Either way, it’s still a perfect example of the unreliability of fossil fuels and how having to depend on them puts you at a disadvantage that can be sidestepped if people install their own energy generation locally using clean energy.

Mike Johnson

Tommy Boy, draft dodger, Udall, is not an expert, he is a partisan political hack looking for someone to put all the blame on, like Texas. The PRC had experts study the outage, you obviously didn't read that expert analysis. Again, this is not about politics, it is about facts and the science of what happened, something you have great difficulty in understanding in any context.

Robert Fields

Maybe Steve Pearce is more your cup of tea, Mike. Here’s what he had to say.

“Across state lines, subzero temperatures froze gas wellheads. This, combined with increasing demand for natural gas, lowered pressure in transmission pipes. The pre-packed transmission lines were no match for the cumulative effects of subzero temperatures, idle turbines and rolling blackouts in Texas, frozen wellheads, increased demand, and low pressure in the natural gas pipeline system.”

But it was more than Steve Pearce and Tom Udall who gave similar testimony. There were both republican and democrats who testified during that hearing and all their testimony is included. Mayors, city council members, and various infrastructure managers.

But Mike, it’s the both hands and a flashlight thing and you keep failing. No matter what caused the outages, there were natural gas outages. Big ones. Lots of people in New Mexico discovered the hard way that it’s not reliable — especially when sourced from a state with a problematic power grid.

It’s all the stuff you don’t need to be an expert to understand. We are seeing repeated failures in Texas and that’s where New Mexicans get a lot of their natural gas. Worse, they happen at the worst time of year.

As an aside, do you know what the weather was in ABQ February 3rd through February 8th 2011 (the time of the outage)? Full sun, party cloudy, and one day of broken clouds. Solar panels would have still been generating plenty of power.

Robert Fields

And funny how you put “shutting off” in quotes like I said that. I never said Texas shut off the gas to New Mexico. I said the pumps froze. That’s corrected in another post.

The 2011 loss of gas pressure was due to the Texas grid struggling to keep up with the load which is part of what caused problems in Texas this year (to be accurate, I said last year elsewhere but it was this last February).

Apparently Texas is still working on fixing the problems in their grid but haven’t done much of substance:

So what this means for New Mexicans reliant on natural gas is that they are also reliant on a power grid that has had two recent major outages and left users stranded with rotten food and busted pipes. Remaining reliant on natural gas exposes folks to two separate failure modes in a system in another state that has issues that apparently are far from addressed.

Mike Johnson

I was replying to Ms. Butler, not you. Not everything is about about complexes.....

Robert Fields

With solar panels folks’ prices for energy are locked in. No surprises. No price increases. No shortages. You don’t even need to have up front costs as financing is available. You can ditch fossil fuels and enjoy a sustainable future whenever you decide to get on board.

Mike Johnson

Bravo Mr. Fields, of course. Everyone should immediately switch to solar, refuse any electricity generated by evil fossil fuels, buy EVs, walk, bike, and never buy anything made with fossil fuels, like plastics, roofing materials, make-up, medicine, etc. How are you doing with all that dude? Here is a partial list of things you must stop buying and using, good luck.....

Robert Fields

Actually, Mike, did you know plastics aren’t vapor phase carbon dioxide? I know, it must be a shock for an oil geologist, but it’s not. If you think back, remember how at one time there was a call to switch to other materials that didn’t last centuries in landfills? Plastics that don’t readily degrade actually take fossil fuel carbon out of circulation for a long time, especially when buried where there’s not so much oxygen and sunlight to help break them down. Makeup and medicine are nowhere near the threat to the environment that fossil fuels used for heating and transportation are.

Products made from fossil fuels that don’t degrade for long periods of time are actually a way to divert fossil fuels away from uses that spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It’s more waste (a problem in and of itself) but less planet-killing CO2, and it adds upward price pressure to fossil fuels. Part of the reason we are so deep in this mess is due to how little it costs to pump or dig them out of the ground. But that also is changing as extraction techniques have to get more involved to be able to get oil and gas out of fields that are rapidly depleting.

That brings up another point - who wants to have to compete in a mad rush for alternatives when everyone else is doing it too, prices are skyrocketing, installers are all booked, and there are shortages of parts to complete installations? It’s like the runs on paper goods in a pandemic or on gas when a hurricane is coming. It’s actually much smarter to do this stuff before everyone else decides they need to do it too and it turns into a competition for resources. Smart folks prepare early. Grasshopper and ant kind of thing, grasshopper.

So actually, I’m doing fine with that, dude. Don’t need your list at all.

Also, I haven’t said drop everything and everybody all go line up at businesses doing solar panel installs or to buy electric cars. Just more reducto ad absurdum from the fossil fuel cheerleader. A mad rush to alternatives isn’t the best thing for the alternatives business anyway. Steadily increasing demand that provides the financing to build out more manufacturing, train folks and create more jobs, is.

No, Mike, what I advocate is for people to make good choices and consider the impacts when they buy cars, replace air conditioning units, or get new roofing. Make good choices that will allow their children to live full lives. But people need to be made aware of what they are playing for so they can make good choices.

And fossil fuel energy instability is a big reason folks might want to consider alternatives. Fossil fuels are a global commodity. Shortages and price hikes overseas drive prices up here because, as we have already seen happen multiple times, when other countries are willing to pay more, distributors here divert fuels overseas. I know, it’s a dirty secret you don’t want folks to consider, but we can even see shortages here as oil and gas companies divert product to markets willing to pay more.

And, as we have already seen, air mass patterns disrupted by global warming now allow extreme cold to flood lower latitudes and take out gas generation capability. We’ve already had people lose gas pressure and become unable to heat homes or prevent pipes from freezing here in NM thanks to extreme cold in Texas. A Russian hack caused gasoline shortages in the northeast. Hurricane Ida left millions without power in the northeast and many more died from lack of power and air conditioning than from the storm itself. Weather is now extreme enough to disrupt conventional energy supplies and people are dying as a result.

Do a search for Ida power disruption. In Louisiana it took solar power to start restoring the grid because the grid itself was devastated. Folks who study this stuff noted the skies were clear after Ida and very few solar installations were affected by the storm. Solar panels can now help stabilize the grid, too. Alternative energy is distributed and harder to knock out. Fossil fuel energy is concentrated and if knocked out can take a long time to restore. And again, the weather now is more extreme, more violent, and events happen more frequently. Staying on fossil fuel power gets more and more risky every passing day.

So anyway, dude, thanks for the opportunity to refute your fossil fuel caviar dreams yet again. Cheers.

Mike Johnson

As I thought, you talk a good game, but aren't doing anything personally.......[lol][lol][lol]

Robert Fields

If you drew conclusions like that in your professional career, you’d be laughed out. Somehow I bet you had receptive audiences in the oil and gas industry.

We’ve had this discussion before. Incapable of remembering? What I told you then and will tell you now is I am doing the very same things I’m recommending to others.

You, on the other hand have reaffirmed that you don’t care about other peoples’ children or apparently even your own. You have not only made it clear that you are doing nothing, you try every trick in the book to convince others there is no danger, but if there is it’s minor or far into the future, or whatever of line of hooey comes into your mind that can possibly be twisted to argue against people trying to do anything to push these global warming climate and weather disasters further out. For some odd reason you need others to behave like you do. Guilty about something, Mike?

But, dude, I’m not telling others to do things I’m not doing myself. I don’t answer to you anyway. We know what you’re doing, though. You’re just making everything worse and causing as much damage as a frustrated old man with some weird complex that requires muscle cars to sate possibly can.

Joe Brownrigg

Robert, thank you for your refutation of the absurd and for filling in much of reasons for your conclusions. Both are sadly lacking in the usual comments here. So, good contributions!!

Mike Johnson

"...a frustrated old man with some weird complex that requires muscle cars to sate possibly can." Sounds like a personal attack to me, but of course nothing will happen if reported, I suspect you have an "in" with this rag's moderators, in more ways than one....[wink]

Robert Fields

Mike, it was merely an observation. I still struggle with how someone with a science degree can look at a plot of steadily-rising temperatures and conclude the planet won’t soon be too hot to support life. The only things I can come up with are paid shill, trying to somehow spread your own guilt, or maybe even some kind complex. It’s not the science. The science proves conclusively you are wrong over and over.

And about that “in” with SFNM - I don’t know anyone there to my knowledge. I’m just a subscriber. I have complained about your posts and others loaded with harmful and dangerous misinformation about global warming and covid, and to my knowledge none of you have been banned. I’ve asked publicly for you to be banned yet you’re still here spewing misinformation. You advocate for behaviors that just make things worse.

If I had any “in” or “pull” with SFNM, trust me, you wouldn’t be able to post.

Joe Brownrigg

Mike, I think you have difficulty reading other peoples' writings...or is it that you enjoy twisting it into something they did not say?

Mike Johnson

Joe, you are the one who is reading comprehension challenged here. But I know you always agree with socialists and left wing people, no matter what gibberish they write. Your politics are showing, but what else is new in Fanta Se......

Joe Brownrigg

Robert, thank you for pointing this out.

Robert Fields

No problem, Joe. And thanks for the support. The only way Mike can win is if we let him. He for sure can’t win using facts or science.

Mike Johnson

Considering the "progress" so far in the Paris Accords, and any other global effort to remove fossil fuels, I would say I am winning, not you......only one country, The Gambia, who is meeting the target of 1.5 degree limit with their guys are the LOSERS......

Mike Johnson

And consider this Mr. Fields: "After the world has spent a few trillion dollars over the last ten years trying to decarbonize, $503 billion in 2020 alone, carbon emissions are still increasing." And: "According to the International Energy Agency, global electricity demand will increase by 5% in 2021 and 4% in 2022, and half of this increase will be from fossil fuels, particularly new coal in the developing world. CO2 emissions from the power sector will rise to record levels in 2022, exceeding 34 billion tons." Maybe you should ask Greta and Algore to step in and help....still think you are "winning"?...

Robert Fields

Mike, I never said I was “winning”. People like you and your nonstop efforts to lie and deceive, and the sorry state of the world’s response would actually suggest the opposite.

It’s not about “winning”, Mike. It’s about not killing the only planet in the solar system able to support and provide for us. Like it or not, this is our home. We have nowhere else to go and the changes in the climate that we are causing are kind of obvious now.

We’re about to see even more issues from our dependence on fossil fuels. The geopolitical ones are going to cause other problems yet you keep trying to convince everyone doing anything is a waste of time. It’s a little demented and crazy, don’t you think? It’s also unpatriotic to try to put your own nation’s government in a corner with no options.

Reducing our fossil fuel use pushes the extreme weather consequences farther into the future which buys us time. It reduces the economic impact from world disruptions. It keeps from destabilizing and/or handicapping our government in international negotiations. Being self sufficient and more immune from international pressures is something Americans should support.

But you don’t. Why is that, Mike?

Mike Johnson

More on your kind of people's efforts to change the earth's climate......."In a ministerial statement ahead of the Cop26 climate talks, which start in Glasgow on 31 October, the group of “like-minded” developing countries issued a strong rebuke to the UK host for calling on all countries to cut their emissions to net zero by the middle of the century.

Ministers from the group of 24 nations, which includes China, India, Egypt, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam, accused rich nations of failing to address their historic responsibility for causing climate change and shifting the burden on developing economies." Another reason you will not succeed in destroying the world's economy.

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