There are some signs that the predicted huge spike in natural gas prices this winter won’t materialize. Winter heating bills still appear to be heading up, just not quite as high as first forecast. Laclede Gas Company of St. Louis has announced it expects to drop gas bills by nearly 5.4 percent for about 480,000 customers. If the reduction wins approval from the Public Service Commission the average Laclede customer would pay $706 to heat his home this winter, $39 less than if the rate remains at the current level. Still, that will be higher than last winter’s heating bill. Last year, the average Laclede customer paid $623 to heat his home.