Natural gas prices to give less ‘ouch’

The effects hurricanes Katrina and Rita had on the price of natural gas will no longer show up on your Columbia Gas bill.

Gas is measured in Ccf units, which measures how much gas is in 100 cubic feet of space. Ccf’s are counted on the meters located outside the house or apartment.

The price per Ccf, before tax and transportation charges, from Jan. 31 to Feb. 28 was $1.28 and has now dropped to $1.13, which is in effect until March 29, 2006. The average number of CCF’s used can range anywhere from 80 to 150 around this time of year.

Imagine the difference that price drop would make when filling a 10 gallon gas tank in a car or truck and then multiply that by eight.

The rates per month since November 2005 have jumped up and down from just over $1.28/Ccf’s all the way up to $1.36/Ccf’s, until now. The price last February, however, was about $0.89/Ccf.

Nancy Lee, office manager at S. Smith Contracting, LLC said the rates for the apartments with all utilities included in the rent were raised an average of about $10 per month, due to the rise in the actual cost of gas.

Lee said Steve Smith, owner, is “really good about working with tenants,” as he switched the heating to electric in two different apartments that did not have utilities included, to try to help the tenants avoid the high cost of gas heating.

Mark Chamberlin, senior, lives in a four bedroom house on Summit, which costs him and his roommates about $400 a month for gas. Before last November, Chamberlin said the roommate in charge of the gas bill wouldn’t ask them for money because “it was so cheap – it was about $20, so we’d just bring him some food from work.”

Although the price of gas didn’t play into Chamberlin’s housing decision, he said it has in the prior school year. Although it won’t affect his decision about where to live in the future, it will affect the salary he expects from a job, he said.

Fay Coutinho, senior, lives in a three bedroom apartment on the third floor has gas bills teetering around $100 the last couple of months. This is her first apartment where utilities are not included in the rent. Coutinho said that the price of gas “would definitely play into [her] decision about where to rent in the future.”

Alex Wright, senior, lives in a house where all utilities are included. The house is owned by his father, who Wright and his roommates pay rent to.

“Even though I don’t directly pay for gas now, since I have a nice situation renting from my father, I would have to say, yeah, I will consider it in the future,” Wright said.

Wright said friends have expressed discontentment with the price of gas, which is coupled with housing issues. “High gas prices plus poorly insulated houses is an issue for students time and time again,” Wright said.

As far as the insulation goes in Smith’s properties, Lee said “when he renovates a house, he does it right. He strips them down to nothing and completely redoes them.”

When compared to rentals from John Newlove Reality, Inc. and Mecca Management Inc., S. Smith Contracting, LLC has the most rental properties where utilities are included (at least eight).