Economy and Business
Wed November 14, 2012
Heating Costs Predicted to Rise
Wisconsin residents should expect higher home heating bills this winter. That's despite falling prices for natural gas and heating oil.
Natural gas prices hit a ten-year low this spring thanks to a new drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing. It’s being used to open up once unreachable supplies of gas and oil in places like North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Texas. But Liz Wolf Green, spokeswoman for Xcel Energy says their customers will still likely pay up to $90 more because they expect a colder winter.
“Last winter was just a gift," she says. "It was one of the warmest winters on record. So, if we assume we will return to normal weather of course that will increase our usage which will increase customer bills.
Jack Eich of Madison Gas and Electric says they use a 25-year weather model to predict what their customer’s usage will be. He says their gas customers could pay about $75 more this winter.
“We’re predicting that the heating costs will be about 18% higher than last year," he says.
WE Energies, which serves much of the southeastern part of the state and parts of western Wisconsin predicts its customers will pay 9% more.
But for those relying on fuel oil to heat their homes, Ryan Gunderson of Superior Fuel says it’s almost impossible to predict what will happen with the market.
“There’re so many factors that affect the prices now," he says. "With the global economy we can have an issue in the middle east that can affect our prices here.”
Gunderson does say that within the last month, fuel oil prices have dropped significantly.
As for electric heating bills, utilities have requested rate increases with the state’s Public Service Commission of anywhere from 1% to 7%.