Natural gas prices will likely affect utility bills in Pratt

Jennifer Stultz
Pratt Tribune
Pratt's Director of Utliities Jamie Huber addresses city commissioners at their February 22 meeting regarding expected rate increases in City of Pratt electric bills due to the spike in natural gas prices.

The impact of increases in natural gas rates for City of Pratt utility customers was a focus of the Pratt City Commissioners at their February 22 meeting, postponed from their scheduled meeting date of February 16 due to sub-zero weather conditions.

“Pratt citizens, and particularly business owners, are fortunate that the City of Pratt has a robust and diverse energy service profile,” said Commissioner Zach Deeds.

Pratt Electric Superintendent Jamie Huber said that natural gas prices went ridiculous as a result of the artic blast, which has an impact on city electric rates since natural gas is one of the fuels the city power plant uses to generate electricity.

“A lot of the bad things didn’t happen in Pratt,” Huber said. “We were able to avoid the blackouts that a large portion of Kansas and neighboring states endured the week of February 15.”

Deeds said energy prices will likely rise significantly everywhere in the near future.

 “The City of Pratt is positioned better than most communities to dampen the blow,” he said.

Huber said he and City Manager Bruce Pinkall have been in discussion about steps to take to ease the burden on city electric utility customers.

“How we’re going to get out of this I don’t know,” Huber said.

City Clerk Lou Kramer said that while the City of Pratt is not governed by the “Cold Weather Rule,” which prohibits turning off power for unpaid electric bills, there are exceptions.

“We don’t ever shut off anybody’s electricity if it’s going to get really, really cold,” Kramer said.

In other business, city commissioners:

*Postponed action on a request for approval of expenditure of $10,000 in Travel and Tourism funds for the purchase of Christmas lights for the 2021 city displays, as presented by Pratt Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kim DeClue.

*Reappointed Tim Barker to serve another term on the Airport Authority Board.

*Adopted a resolution regarding the Kansas Homeland Security Region E Hazard Mitigation Plan, extending the plan currently in place.

*Approved a request for rezoning property at 1121 West 4th Street to allow duplexes or single-family homes, as presented by Building Inspector Brad Blakenship.

*Approved $1,000 grant as requested by Siemens, with support from former commissioner Doug Meyer, to help fund an on-line survey under the auspices of Colorado State University to gather public opinion from Pratt residents relating to the categories of racism and injustice, institutional synergy, engaging civic culture, organic coalitions, purposeful collaboration and learning together, with results compiled in a report to be provided to commissioners. Vote was unanimous with Siemens abstaining from the vote.

*Were updated by Pratt City Attorney Regina Goff that Robert Slinkard has taken office as the Pratt County Public Defender.