The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Natural gas prices:
Just not natural!

Nov 21, 2005

Utilities across the country have announced that in the next month, they will be doubling their natural gas prices, already at an all-time high.

The utilities blame it on the producers. And the producers blame it on short supply.

The companies claim that the rise in price reflects the increase in demand, coupled with a decline in production.

How convenient – since they’re the ones who decide how much to produce!

It’s not because they CAN’T produce any more than they do. It’s because they choose not to.

They’re trying to ride the back of the high price of crude oil to push through this outrageous increase. But natural gas is not refined from crude oil. They’re two different commodities. And the price of one should not impact the price of the other.

But natural gas does share one thing with oil: both are controlled by a few huge companies that believe they can charge whatever prices they want to set.

And just as the big oil companies keep a tight control on the supply of oil, by restricting the number of refineries in operation, the natural gas producers keep a cap on the supply of gas – to justify the prices they want to set. And sometimes they’re the same companies.

We saw them run this very same scam at the time when Enron was ripping off California in its energy crisis five years ago. But just as gas prices were set to rise through the roof in 2001, Enron collapsed. As the scandal spread, the utilities and gas producers backed off their price hikes.

But in the last couple years, they’ve been bringing this scam back – shooting gas prices higher and higher, and saying they have no other choice.

We don’t have that short a memory! If they can’t provide the services we need at a decent price, take away their facilities from them. Heat is too necessary to be left in the hands of profit-making vultures.