The Kansas Corporation Commission (KCC) is alerting consumers that energy prices are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future based on current national forecasts. This will likely increase the cost to cool homes and businesses this summer and heat them this winter.
Like many other energy and commodity prices, monthly wholesale natural gas prices have recently increased to levels not seen in the United States since September 2008. Wholesale electricity prices have increased as well. On April 18, the New York Mercantile Exchange futures price for natural gas climbed to nearly $8 per MMBtu (metric million British thermal units) for May and June, with prices above $8 per MMBtu for the rest of this year and upcoming winter. For context, natural gas prices regularly traded in the $2 to $3 per MMBtu range for much of the last decade.
Wholesale prices for natural gas are based on supply and demand and are not regulated, a decision made by the U.S. Congress in the 1980s. Accordingly, these costs are often outside the direct control of energy providers, and are passed through to the end consumer outside of a rate case without markup or profit. It is important to note that the pass-through energy costs are audited by KCC audit staff to make sure customers only pay the actual wholesale energy costs that their utility provider pays, again without markup or profit.
The Energy Information Administration recently released its short-term energy outlook indicating that energy price forecasts for the rest of the year are subject to heightened levels of uncertainty from factors such as the continuing war between Russia and Ukraine, decisions of OPEC+ (a group of nations allied with OPEC to cut production and thereby raise oil prices), and the rate at which U.S. oil and natural gas producers increase drilling in response to higher prices.
KCC has launched an online resource to provide additional information, help consumers minimize the impact, and find financial and weatherization assistance.
KLA disburses wildfire funds
The Kansas Livestock Foundation (KLF) distributed $2 million in relief funds in April to 94 Kansas applicants that were affected by wildfires and severe storms in December. A special committee, including representatives from KLF and the Kansas Livestock Association, reviewed the applications and developed a formula to equitably allocate the funds.
Applicants lost more than 2,100 head of livestock and about 750 miles of fence, and reported nearly 117,000 acres burned.
KLF and KLA leaders say they extend a special thanks to those who donated to the relief fund. More than 2,100 contributors from 41 states gave to the cause.
Donations still are being accepted for those affected by the wildfires that have occurred this spring. To donate, visit KLA wildfire relief resources; or send a check, with “wildfire relief” written in the memo line, to 6031 S.W. 37th St., Topeka, KS 66614. Affected producers can apply for KLF relief funds at the same address. Applications are due May 15. Applicants do not have to be KLA members.
Wheat Foods Council gathers
The Wheat Foods Council hosted its Chef Workshop and first Future of Food Forum April 11-14 in Napa, Calif.
Kansas Wheat was represented at this meeting of key people in the wheat foods industry.
The goal was to introduce chefs and food trendsetters to wheat food ingredients and unique uses in their menus. The Future of Food Forum included a panel discussion with farmers, millers, food marketers, packagers and professional chefs. The forum also educated attendees about the process of food research and development, as well as trends in the industry that affect consumers and everyone else in the chain.
Ron Suppes, a Kansas Wheat commissioner from Dighton, spoke about his farm and explained fertilizer prices and how they will affect farmers — even with high commodity prices. He also advocated for the private and public research that’s ongoing to use fewer inputs to raise high-yielding, high-quality wheat. To learn more about the Wheat Foods Council, visit wheatfoods.org.