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Anchorage energy use hits all-time record

Anchorage residents are burning through record levels of energy to keep their homes and businesses warm and lit during the long cold snap.

Cook Inlet natural gas supplies most of our energy needs, and on Saturday we used more of it than ever before.

Total gas flow to area customers that day totaled 234 million cubic feet, said Curtis Thayer, spokesman for local utility Enstar Natural Gas Co. The previous record was 227 million cubic feet set on Jan. 9, 2007.

All that gas consumption is going to cost local consumers -- maybe more than you realize.

Beginning this month, Enstar bills are increasing by about 22 percent. For the average house, it means an extra $27 per month over the coming year, Thayer said.

The rate hike reflects the high prices for oil and gas in recent months. Enstar's supply contracts are linked to these price trends, Thayer said.

OK, so your gas bill is taking a painful rise. The good news is Enstar's distribution system is working well and its gas suppliers -- the oil companies operating wells around Cook Inlet -- are having no problems meeting demand during this string of subzero nights, Thayer said.

"The system is running excellent both on the producer side and the Enstar side," he said. "It's a lot of gas we're moving."

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