US (CA): Bay Area flower growers face skyrocketing natural gas prices

One of the Bay Area's oldest flower producers is facing hard decisions between heat and employees. They're not alone. A lot of California businesses are getting sticker shock when they get their natural gas bills. The bill could cost some employees their jobs. 

For three generations, the Neve family of Petaluma has raised and sold roses in the Bay region to generations of flower store and stand owners, event planners, flower marts, and consumers.      

During the holidays, the rest of winter, and early spring, a rose by any other name is gas, and that is the problem. 

"October through April, May, depending on the weather, we have to heat these roses a lot. It's probably our number two cost right behind labor to heat is the amount of heat, natural gas we have to spend to produce these roses at a high quality and enough volume to justify it," said third-generation rose grower Nick Neve.

Without warmth provided to the roses from natural gas-made steam heat steam in greenhouse heating pipes, the Neve's 600,000 square feet of roses will grow too slowly or go dormant. "Your crop slows, your quality can suffer depending on the variety, and you run the risk for disease, and that increases the cost for pesticides and fungicides and stuff like that," said Neve.

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