LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) — Many Las Cruces residents saw around a 50 percent increase in their gas bill in January.

Las Cruces Utilities says prices are the highest the city has seen from the San Juan Basin where Las Cruces gets 33 percent of its gas. The San Juan Basin is in the Four Corners region and is one of the nation’s most productive natural gas fields.

One resident told KTSM 9 News he was only able to pay half of his bill.

“How are we going to pay close to $400 on short notice and really we’re all going through rough times. How are we to pay this?” Michael Telles said.

Telles said he did not get any advance notice that the price of natural gas would go up so much.

“In shock. How are we to pay this? We had no warning that it was going to be this high. We did hear that it was going to be somewhat high but not this much of an increase,” he said.

Woman also said her bill around 50 percent higher in January.

“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 Laura Parmele, from Las Cruces.

The City of Las Cruces Utilities explained that the higher bills are due to an increase in demand from the San Juan Basin.

“It’s really based on weather and then supply and demand. The San Juan Basin also provides gas to California which had a rather cold winter, so they were taking a lot more of the gas from the San Juan Basin” said Domonique Rodriguez, the deputy director of the City of Las Cruces Business Services for Utilities.

Rodriguez said there are options for residents who cannot pay their bills.

“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. They just need to come into customer service or call us,” said Rodriguez.

In January customers were getting charged $13.71 for gas and in December 2022 the price was $7.81.

Gas bills are expected to be down in February with the City saying the price will be $6.43.

If residents need more assistance, there are other utility assistance programs in Las Cruces. These include Casa de Peregrinos where customers pay 50 percent of their bill and the rest will be paid through the Utility Assistance Program at Casa De Peregrinos.

In addition, the City of Las Cruces has an Income Support Division application process and a Low Income Household Energy Assistance Program.