LAS CRUCES, N.M. (KRQE) – Many Las Cruces residents were shocked to see a 50% increase on their gas bill last month. “It was a $160 difference and I had never seen or heard of anything about that, never had that happen here or any other place that we’ve lived so I was not a happy camper,” said Las Cruces resident Laura Parmele.

Las Cruces Utilities blamed the increase on rising demand from the San Juan Basin, where the city gets a third of its natural gas supply. They say they were able to get the rates down from $33 to $13 for customers but that is still 50% higher from what it was.

“We understand that some can’t pay their bill because that is such a high bill, so what we did is we’re not accessing late fees at this time and we do have payment plans available to customers,” says Domonique Rodriguez, deputy director of business services for utilities.

Las Cruces Utilities expects next month’s bills to be lower, with the price for gas from the basin dropping by 53% from January to February.