Chester gas customers feel winter storm pain

Dan Zobel
When Chester residents received their gas bills this month, most must have been thinking, Houston, these rates are astronomical.
Some residents saw their rates multiply by two and three times. Alderman Dan Ohlau and Mayor Tom Page reiterated during the council’s March 15 meeting that this had nothing to do with the city and was only a one-time happening.
Ohlau explained that when winter storms swept through Texas in the middle of February, the storms led to increased demand in natural gas. However, the same storms knocked out power generators for that natural gas, which limited supply.
Ohlau said, because of this, Chester’s gas supplier, Symmetry Energy Solutions, which is based in Houston, received notice of a force majeure from its supplier. A force majeure is an unforeseeable circumstance that prevents someone from fulfilling a contract. It was put into effect because Symmetry could not supply its clients with gas because it was unable to get its normal stock.
“They were under the gun the weekend of Presidents’ Day, and it extended through that Friday,” Ohlau said. “It dramatically affected our gas rates for that month.”
Any resident who calls city hall can work out a payment plan, generally over the course of three months, to take care of the abnormally high bill.
“It’s only right we offer that,” said Alderman Michael Blechle. “It’s too much to pay all at once.”
Page added that things have gotten back to normal pricing.
“That was a very unfortunate week for all of us,” Page said. “It’s something that, if you get on social media, it will appear that they throw darts at us every once in a while, but we had nothing to do with that. We hate it, but it was a one-time deal.”
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