EXPECT HIGHER ELECTRIC BILLS AFTER STORMS

Officials with Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative are warning its customers to be ready for much higher electric bills this month.

Two strong, arctic cold fronts blasted Central Texas in January and brought unwelcome ice and snow. The unusually cold winter weather will lead to higher electric bills for Central Texans.

Bluebonnet General Manager Mark Rose says people all across Central Texas are receiving electric bills much higher than they’ve seen the past two winters.

Rose says the weather is the single biggest contributor to increased energy consumption for residential consumers.

There are two factors in calculating an electric bill: cost and consumption. The cost per kilowatt hour, which is the unit of measurement for electricity, stays the same from month to month. But consumption varies from month to month, mostly depending on the weather. The typical family uses more electricity during cold winter and hot summer months than in moderate spring and fall months. Therefore, their electric bills are higher during the winter and summer.

Winter storm conditions have twice canceled or delayed school and work, leaving kids and parents at home when they would normally be away. Subsequently, thermostats were set a few degrees warmer for more hours than normal, increasing energy consumption and driving up electric bills.

Some Bluebonnet members might have the Christmas holiday’s cold front and one or both of the January cold fronts on the same billing cycle, which will cause their electric bills to be even higher than the previous months, which had only one cold front.

According to Bob Rose, meteorologist for the Lower Colorado River Authority, the same jet stream pattern that brought chilly air into Central Texas in December and January is expected to continue through much of February.