By now you’ve probably seen a lot of promotions from some of the Choice Gas suppliers offering some form of fixed monthly bill. They might say something like this: “Based on your estimated usage of 1000 therms last year, we’d like to offer you an all-in fixed monthly bill of only $65 for the coming year.”

But is it a good deal?

The allure of a fixed monthly bill is obvious. You may be a retiree on a fixed income, or a student in your junior year at University of Wyoming barely surviving on a steady diet of Ramen noodles, or maybe you’re just the kind of person who wants to be able to plan your monthly expenses well into the foreseeable future. A fixed monthly bill would definitely make budgeting easier- but at what cost?

Let’s take the example above. If your monthly bill is $65, you will pay a total of $780 over the course of an entire year (12 x $65). Now we’ll divide this total by your total annual usage of 1000 therms to get an average price of 78 cents per therm.

What?? I paid 78 cents per therm last year when I remember being offered a fixed price of 39 cents per therm from last during last April’s selection period?

Fun fact: WPCA offered a fixed price of 39 cents per therm for the Casper division last April.

When a Choice Gas supplier offers you a fixed price, they will almost invariably pad their price with lots of extra profit margin to cover themselves in case you decide to leave all the windows in your house open during the winter months, effectively heating the atmosphere of eastern Wyoming. In this situation, you’ll pay the same fixed monthly bill while the energy they send to your home literally goes out the window.

Is there any other way to balance my bill throughout the year without paying extra?

We’re glad you asked. Black Hills Energy (formerly Source Gas) has a special program available to the public appropriately called Balanced Billing. The utility will calculate your monthly bill based on a 360-day rolling average of your usage at current and historical costs, and you can plan on your bill staying very close to that average from one month to the next with minimal fluctuation.

How do I get started?

First thing’s first: find the best per-therm price you can find, whether fixed, index or blended. Next, call Black Hills Energy at 1-800-563-0012 and ask them about Balanced Billing, or get more details from their website by clicking here.

Between WPCA and Black Hills Energy’s Balanced Billing program, you can accomplish the same goal as other fixed monthly billing options but without the extra cost.

The next time you see one of those promotions, don’t fall for it – call up WPCA instead.

Wyoming Producer-Consumer Alliance

A Wyoming resource for Wyoming residents