During Tuesday's Casper City Council meeting, Mayor Bruce Knell discussed what as become an ongoing situation related to high gas bill prices.

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According to Knell, he's been bombarded with phone calls and messages regarding high gas bills from Black Hills Energy.

"I've gotten a minimum of 50 phone calls concerning Black Hills Energy and the gas bills that everyone is receiving," Knell stated. "Some of you may not know what I'm talking about, but if you look at your gas bill, you're gonna know."

Evidently, gas bills are higher this month than they normally would be and Casper residents have complained to Mayor Knell about the hike in price.

Knell highlighted a "typical $500 gas bill" for a shop in town that, due to a new delivery fee, has been raised to more than $800.

Knell also referenced an individual home who typically pays close to $150 a month for gas, who is now paying $180.

The Black Hills Energy website states that "Reliable energy keeps your food cold and water hot. It powers your tools, your computers and your lights. It fuels your stove, your grill and your furnace. To keep your service reliable, we have to invest in our systems to keep them in good working order. Since we are a regulated utility, your rates reflect the costs of these improvements. Which means sometimes, we have to raise rates.

"Our rates include the costs to produce, purchase and deliver energy. Our base rates include the costs to deliver electricity or natural gas. What they don't include is the actual costs of the fuel — whether it’s coal or natural gas. Those are separate charges that we pass on to you without markup."

Knell stated that the more gas is used, the higher the delivery rate increases. In winter, especially, prices could raise considerably due to more heat being used in homes and businesses.

"I can assure you there is nothing the city can do to help you when it comes to this," Knell said. "This is something that was granted to the gas company by the public service commission. It took place in September, which is probably why you're just now seeing it."

Knell stated that be believed BHE separates the CFM's on the bill, which show the delivery fee.

"They are tied together, so it does go up with usage," Knell said. "And I've been told that towards the end of winter, when you're not using as much gas, that delivery fee does drop down and your bill will go back down."

Knell noted that the prices are "substantially higher" this year than they have been previously, and it's because of the delivery fee.

"I would urge you to reach out to the Public Service Commission down in Cheyenne and that's about all we can to do help you," Knell closed.

The Public Service Commission can be reached by phone at 307-777-7427. It is located in the Hansen Building in Cheyenne, located at 2515 Warren Avenue, Suite 300. Complaints can be filed here.

The Casper City Council meeting can be seen in full via the video below:

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