PureWest pledges energy assistance
SUBLETTE COUNTY – With skyrocketing natural-gas prices and a cold winter shocking local natural gas and propane customers, PureWest is stepping up again with a pledge to help.
Although Pinedale Natural Gas owner Steven Shute announced the nearly doubled natural gas costs when he saw it coming, the reality didn’t hit home until families, renters, owners, churches and schools received their December bills in January.
“Up until Russia disrupted the world energy markets in late 2021, a typical residential customer would pay $700 to $800 in annual gas bills,” Shute said this week. “Now with much higher gas index prices, it’s more like $1,100 to 1,200, where the PNG delivery charges stayed the same.”
PureWest (formerly Ultra Resources) quietly funded an energy assistance program last winter to help local natural gas and propane customers pay heating bills or get needed fuel delivered in cases of emergencies, lost jobs, illness or worse, said PureWest’s Kelly Bott.
The PureWest Giving Committee, including employees that live and work in Sublette County, is increasing its pledges this winter.
Bott said, “We don’t have any control over pricing (and we certainly haven’t doubled rates for PNG), but at least we hope to be able to help those that are struggling with those high energy bills.”
Shute acknowledged, this has been a record, brutal winter, coupled with the highest-ever gas commodity prices. As we’ve said all winter, these are battlefield rules, and PNG will be lenient on folks with big bills they struggle to pay, if they’re making an honest effort.”
PureWest also helps struggling propane customers, according to TeAnn Egle, office manager at Valley Wide Propane. Propane prices have not skyrocketed like natural gas but prices are still higher than last winter, Egle said.
Last winter, Egle and Shute said PureWest left it to staff to put pledged money “to the best use for the highest needs.”
“We gave all of this as credits to 32 customers for an average of $156 each,” Shute said. “Most of these were single women on fixed incomes. Some were widows and the rest were families where the major breadwinner was not employed due to illness or injury. One was raising a brother’s three kids and was between jobs.”
Bott said PureWest “is hopeful (this) donation will cover several months if not more for households needing some additional support. We understand that customers’ energy bills are high, and PureWest is working to give back to the communities that support us.”
Shute said customers could call Pinedale Natural Gas at 307-367-4427 to get on the list for consideration.
“We’ll see how many are interested and the depth of the need,” he said. “We plan to allocate the entire amount by the end of this winter, since it’s so extraordinary.”