Get pocketbook ready for BGE gas pains


June 15, 2008|By Jay Hancock

The next pain in your pocketbook will be natural gas.

Baltimore Gas and Electric's "commodity" gas price for May was $1.30 per therm, and e-mail correspondents tell me it has risen even higher for June, although BGE hasn't posted it on its Web site.

May's price is a whopping 39 percent higher than BGE's natural gas price from May last year.

Natural gas still hasn't hit the post-Hurricane Katrina high of $1.63, in November 2005, but it might be on the way. Futures markets have natural gas at these levels until next spring.

That will mean big bills this winter. Most households don't use much gas in the summer, so the pain is limited for now. But when it gets cold, natural gas figures to add to the shock that households are feeling over electricity prices.

Last fall, I predicted that people who rejected fixed-price offers from Washington Gas Energy Services and other vendors for $1 per therm would do better than those who signed up.

This might be true for the 12-month offers.

For November through March - the months of heaviest gas use, for furnaces - BGE's price stayed under a dollar, dropping as low as 94 cents in January and February.

The money you saved then might be more than the extra you're spending to cook food and heat water now.

But people who locked in for a 24-month contract at last fall's prices will probably be shown to be very wise indeed.

A dollar per therm will probably look pretty good next January.


For Jay Hancock's take on local business news that affects you, read him daily at

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