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Morton natural gas customers could face bills 5x larger than usual in February

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MORTON (HOI) - The Village of Morton posted Tuesday morning on it's Facebook page suggesting to residents they conserve the use of gas. This comes after unprecedented storms and weather in Texas and other southern states.

The deep freeze and ice storms have shut down natural gas producing facilities in Texas and the effects are being felt in Central Illinois. "That's where the natural gas comes from. That combined with the extreme cold we're dealing with is why we're dealing with what i consider obscene market conditions right now," explained Craig Loudermilk the Morton Public Works Superintendent.

Morton is the largest municipal gas operation in the state of Illinois. They service customers and bill as a utility, just like they do for water.

But now with prices soaring, the small operation when compared to bigger energy suppliers, is behind the eight-ball. Now asking residential and commercial customers to conserve, or even stop operations altogether.

"We're not telling them to shut down, but we're telling them now's the time to stop production otherwise your bill is going to be extreme," explained Loudermilk.

"We believe right now that everyone's bill will be 5 times more in February," added Loudermilk Tuesday.

For business customers this surely means thousands of dollars. For residential customers hundreds, if not thousands. Longtime Morton resident Christopher Farris said his usual gas and water bill runs, "Two hundred maybe, two three hundred if it's in the winter."

He added, "While this is going to be a burden on my household, but to other people it's going to be more than a burden, it's probably going to completely drain them."

Caterpillar, BSI, Matcor, and Morton Industries are four of the largest customers. For them it could mean shutdowns or obscene gas bills.

President of Morton Industries Chris Ober said Tuesday they are doing all they can to comply. He said they have taken action by turning the thermostat down and limiting use of paint dryers that utilize a lot of gas.

But any solution is still yet to be determined. He said they are meeting with Morton Village leadership Wednesday to learn more.

As for Village leaders, they say a $14.5 million dollar surplus in the gas fund isn't a safety net. And that money is intended for infrastructure upgrades in the future.

Kyle Beachy

Kyle Beachy is a Multimedia Journalist for 25 News and Heart of Illinois. Born and raised in Kokomo, Indiana, he attended Indiana Wesleyan University where he studied Education and played baseball. He comes to us from Columbus, Ohio where he received a Master’s Degree from The Ohio State University.

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