Midwest Cold Weather & Energy Volatility 

Your source for energy-related updates, information and tips as record low temperatures impact the Central Region.
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Important Customer Notice

Updated February 22, 2021

The extreme cold weather and market volatility over the past week wreaked havoc across the Midwest region. Always committed to providing reliable service to our customers, we worked hard to maintain surety of our gas supply, maximize operational efficiencies and maintain full operations through the crisis.

Thank you for your partnership as we worked together to minimize the impact to your operations.

We will continue to monitor this event and provide updates to keep you informed. As your energy partner, we are here to help you in any way we can.

Vicinity is Here For You

Our systems and equipment have redundancies in place to ensure uninterrupted service during the toughest of climate events. We want to assure you that we are:

  • Carefully monitoring and controlling our natural gas usage while still providing reliable, uninterrupted service to our customers
  • Working to secure the lowest price possible for our customers
  • Ensuring that our customers receive the latest information in real-time and offering tips to minimize energy use, without risk to people or equipment

Frequently Asked Questions

What happened and why?
The Polar Vortex anomaly brought winter storms and arctic air to the Midwest region, causing significant increases in gas use. Gas suppliers have stated that the extended cold temperatures caused suppliers’ natural gas wells to freeze, damage to pumps and compressors (which provide the gas to the pipelines), power plant start up issues, and wind and solar failures. Suppliers have indicated that all of these issues contributed to curtailments and shut offs of gas and electric supplies in the region, declared states of emergencies, and extraordinary gas price spikes of up to 30,000%.
Did this weather affect my steam service?
No. This did not affect Vicinity’s operations. The central plant uses natural gas boilers to produce steam which is transported through underground piping to your facility. Despite power outages in the region, Vicinity’s central plant continued to be 100% operational throughout the severe weather. As a local grid of infrastructure, our systems are well suited for these events – we have multiple redundant boilers, plant equipment, and pipelines to prevent an interruption to our customers. We coordinated closely with our suppliers, and our system remained online even as gas and electric outages rolled across the region.
How is my bill calculated?
Vicinity customers have two components to their charges: a capacity charge and an energy charge. The unit price of natural gas is a pass-through in the energy component of the bill. More specifically, most energy charges are calculated using the amount of steam consumed during the month, the base unit steam price, and an adjustment for gas price and inflation.
What is Vicinity doing to reduce the financial impact?
Vicinity Energy is pursuing all courses of action on your behalf in order to minimize the impacts to your bill. With our customers front of mind, Vicinity is acting aggressively to fight the unconscionable price spikes of the past week. We will keep you informed of our efforts over the coming weeks and months as the full impact becomes clear.

How to Curtail Energy Use 

Follow these tips to help minimize energy use and reduce the impact of gas price increases

Occupied Buildings

Lower your thermostat settings to at least 65-degrees when buildings are occupied

Unoccupied Buildings

Lower thermostat settings an additional 5 to 10 degrees when buildings are vacant

Water Heaters

Lower temperature settings on water heaters and limit the use of hot water when possible

Control Natural Light

Open blinds and shades to take advantage of the sun’s natural heat during the day, and close shades at night to reduce heat loss through windows

Equipment Use

Shut down any non-essential equipment

Office Buildings

Temporarily close buildings and encourage employees to work from home so you can keep building temperatures lower throughout the day

Recent News

The latest energy-related news and information from Oklahoma and Missouri.

National

FERC to Examine Potential Wrongdoing in Markets During Recent Cold Snap
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced today that its Office of Enforcement is examining wholesale natural gas and electricity market activity during last week’s extreme cold weather to determine if any market participants engaged in market manipulation or other violations.

If the Office of Enforcement finds any potential wrongdoing that can be addressed under FERC’s statutory authority, it will pursue those matters as non-public investigations.

Read More

February 2021 polar vortex sends Texas natural gas markets spinning
The energy crisis in the ERCOT region (and surrounding regions) is the result of an extraordinary weather event driving a combination of increases in demand for both electricity and natural gas, decreases in the production of natural gas due to well and processing plant freeze-ups, and outages on the power system due to both freeze related plant outages and lack of fuel. The increase in demand and decrease in supply has created an unbalanced market for both power and natural gas, resulting in dramatic power outages as well as historic high prices for both natural gas and electricity.

Read More

Oklahoma

Senator Seeks Probe of Natural Gas Price Spikes During Storm
WASHINGTON (AP) — A Democratic senator is calling for federal investigations into possible price gouging of natural gas in the Midwest and other regions following severe winter storms that plunged Texas and other states into a deep freeze that caused power outages in millions of homes and businesses.

Read More

Recap: Gov. Stitt addresses Oklahoma winter storm utility bills Monday
Gov. Kevin Stitt and other Oklahoma officials addressed the effect of last week’s severe winter storm on utility bills at 11 a.m. Monday.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. said Sunday it’s likely the recent frigid weather will cost customers more in terms of higher utility bills.

“It’s too early to estimate how customer use and higher fuel costs will affect utility bills” the Oklahoma City-based utility said in a statement issued Sunday. “As a regulated utility, OG&E will work with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to determine a path forward.”

Watch Now

Gov. Kevin Stitt requests Oklahoma emergency declaration from federal government
Gov. Kevin Stitt has requested the federal government declare a state of emergency across Oklahoma due to severe winter weather. Stitt announced Wednesday he is seeking a disaster declaration for all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties so localities can unlock federal aid to cover emergency costs. The request comes a day after Stitt spoke to President Joe Biden via phone. “Yesterday President Biden pledged the federal government’s support for Oklahoma when we spoke by phone,” Stitt said in a statement. “I am now urging the President and his administration to act quickly and deliver on our request to help Oklahomans recover from this historic storm.”

Read More

Texas-size concern: Stitt, regulators work to keep Oklahoma utility bills from spiking
Oklahomans can expect to see bigger utility bills next month as they pay for additional energy used to get through February’s brutal winter weather.

And no one should be surprised. As temperatures plummeted, energy needs spiked.

But state leaders offered assurances to worried consumers Monday most won’t see Texas-size amounts when they open those bills.

Read More

President Joseph R. Biden Approves Emergency Declaration for Oklahoma
WASHINGTON — FEMA announced federal emergency aid has been made available to the state of Oklahoma to supplement state, tribal and local response efforts in areas affected by a severe winter storm beginning Feb. 8, 2021 and continuing.

Read More

Commission issues emergency order for state utilities
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Corporation Commission worked well into the evening Tuesday on an emergency order intended to provide legal support for the state’s utilities, which are juggling multimillion-dollar contractual obligations with the need to prioritize health and safety during February’s winter storms. With additional snowfall forecast for the coming day and an ever-fluctuating status regarding the price and availability of natural gas, Brandy L. Wreath, director of the Public Utility Division for the OCC, presented an emergency order to commissioners at a late afternoon meeting held by phone and teleconference.

Read More

Order directs utilities to prioritize natural gas and electric services to preserve the health, safety and welfare of the public
Oklahoma Corporation Commissioners were all about addressing natural gas supply issues on the upstream side Monday. Tuesday, they refocused their attention on downstream natural gas and electricity needs of critical businesses and residents by considering a proposed emergency order aiming to keep both flowing. A divided commission adopted the order, with Commission Chairman Todd Hiett and Commissioner Dana Murphy supporting it.

Read More

Missouri

Blunt leads Missouri delegation letter urging FERC to review and address natural gas supply issues.
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) led a letter from members of the Missouri congressional delegation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) urging the commission to quickly review and address concerns regarding the nation’s natural gas supply as weather-related energy demand spikes in Missouri and several other states.

Read More

Parson, members of Missouri congressional delegation raise concerns about natural gas supplies, price gouging
JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday Missourians should report suspected natural gas price gouging to the state attorney general’s office amid reports of “huge” price increases in recent days.

“Given the extremely cold temperatures, I understand there have been some supply issues,” Parson said. “However we will not tolerate any effort to price gouge or take advantage of customers at a time when there is no other choice or alternative options.”

Read More

Gov. Parson warns natural gas companies to not price gouge Missourians
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson is asking the attorney general to investigate high natural gas prices after this week’s bitter cold temperatures.

The governor is warning natural gas companies to not take advantage of Missourians during this arctic blast. Parson is asking the attorney general to get involved because he’s concerned about companies’ price gouging.

Read More

Missouri legislators ask Feds to probe natural gas prices
After rolling blackouts impacted much of the region, some of Missouri’s federal legislators are asking a regulatory agency to investigate if a shortage of natural gas contributed to the problem.

The legislators, including Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Rep. Sam Graves, R-Mo., also asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to investigate just how much natural gas still is available in Missouri. Widespread price hikes of natural gas have been reported.

Read More

Parson wants to probe for natural gas price gouging before aiding Missouri towns
JEFFERSON CITY – Missouri has the resources to assist those facing a surge in natural gas prices during an unprecedented cold snap, Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday, but he wants to investigate potential price-gouging first.

“I don’t want people to be taken advantage of,” Parson said during his weekly press briefing. “Just because we’re finding a way to pay some corporation money that’s making millions and millions of dollars off a natural disaster, I want to make sure that’s not happening.”

Read More

We’re Here to Help

Please contact your local team if you have questions or need support

Kansas City

816-215-2880

Oklahoma City

405-397-8153

Tulsa

918-734-3173