Mt. Vernon Register-News

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April 16, 2014

MVTHS eyes high gas bill

MT. VERNON — An unusually high natural gas bill sparked a great deal of concern at Monday afternoon’s meeting of the Mt. Vernon Township High School Finance Committee.

The bill in question, for roughly $29,000, was for the month of February 2014. It comes from the district’s new gas provider, Constellation.

By comparison, the February 2013 gas bill for MVTHS was only $8,225.

Committee members said Monday they want to investigate the new bill further before authorizing its payment. The issue is set to be discussed again at next Monday’s meeting of the MVTHS Board of Education.

“Until I understand it, I don’t think we should be paying that,” said MVTHS Board member Bill Beck. “It just seems like somewhere along the line somebody fouled up really bad.”

MVTHS changed its natural gas provider late last year. Its former provider was the firm Centerpoint, which billed the school district on a variable, month-to-month basis. These kind of bills are based on the market price of gas.

On Dec. 19, 2013, the district signed a 24-month contract with its new provider, Constellation, which offers fixed rate billing. The district’s agent for this contract is Affordable Gas & Electric.

Even so, by the time the new contract was signed, gas prices had spiked and it was no longer feasible for the district to “lock in” rates for that winter, said AGE officials.

As a result, MVTHS was still subject to a fluctuating, variable rate during that time.

“By the time AGE gained access to the account and services were transferred from Centerpoint to Constellation, prices had already spiked and the option of buying a portion of the supply at a lower cost was no longer available,” states a written statement from MVTHS.

Superintendent Michael Smith added it was a confluence of different factors that led to the district’s excessively high gas bill for February.

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