Brace yourself. Start saving now. Insulate your home. Do whatever you have to. It is going to cost a lot more to heat your homes this winter.
A Natural Gas State of the Industry presentation before the Public Service Commission on Tuesday outlined the increases coming for natural gas prices, increases that have already been indicated by filings made by the state’s top utilities. Missouri Energy Development Association President Warren Wood predicts that natural gas prices will go up dramatically this winter.
"As customers who are filling up their gas tank or going to the grocery store know, we’ve seen some increases in the price of just about everything people use everyday," Wood said during an interview, "Natural gas is no different. We’ve seen some increases in the market, especially this spring, that were unusually high."
Demand is up around the world. Speculation might be playing a role in rising oil prices, which play a role in natural gas prices. Weather also will help determine the actual price of natural gas in five months. Wood says there is almost no scenario that sees anything but higher prices this winter. Wood says hurricane season determines to a large extent the price of natural gas. If hurricanes hit the Gulf hard, it will drive up prices. If they stay on the Atlantic Coast, gas prices won’t be as affected.
An increase in the wholesale price of natural gas has triggered sharp increases in natural gas prices by state utilities. Atmos Energy has informed the PSC it is raising gas prices between 22-to-33%, AmerenUE is raising gas prices 23% and Missouri Gas Energy has announced a 27% increase. Rates pushed by the wholesale natural gas markets are exempt from state regulation.
Wood cautions consumers to expect home heating bills this winter to cost about $40 a month more. He suggest switching to budget billing to even out the increase and adding insulation to your home this summer to prepare for a more expensive winter.