to Pay More this Winter...
Natural Gas Heating Bills Will be Bigger, But Supplies Are Okay
costs are rising dramatically
In June, it looked like natural gas could be in short supply this winter
- and carry premium prices. With the onset of Fall, some of those predictions
have changed: supplies are adequate to meet the needs, but prices will
definitely be higher than last year. At this point, weather is the biggest
"unknown" factor which could impact both supplies and prices. Whether
prices top the peak period of winter 2001-2002, remains to be seen.
Help or Can't Pay?
This winter's residential natural gas prices are expected to be 10 to
15 percent higher than last year. At the end of August, the East Region,
which includes Nebraska, had an inventory of 1,418 billion cubic feet
which is only seven percent below the five-year average for the region.
Eastern Nebraskans served by Aquila will be paying even more because the
utility has also increased rates, which are being reviewed. For those
who want to monitor natural gas supply and price information, the Energy
Office web site, http://www.nol.org/home/NEO/,
provides updates every month.
According to experts at the Energy Information Administration, the long-range
view for natural gas is volatility, both on prices and supplies.
or someone you know has struggled in the past with winter
bills, there may be a solution before the bills get out of hand. There
are several alternatives for those Nebraskans who have had difficulty
paying for heating bills:
with limited incomes can receive assistance
- The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program is available to those
with limited incomes. Grants to help pay for the cost of heating may
be available from the state's Department of Health and Human Services.
To find out more about grants to pay utility bills can be found at http://www.hhs.state.ne.us/fia/energy.htm
- The Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program makes improvements
in homes so that less energy is used and utility bills are reduced.
These services cannot help with unpaid utility bills, but could be effective
in reducing the heating bills for next winter. While weatherization
services are free, access to services is based on income. Current income
limits are listed at http://www.nol.org/home/NEO/wx/incomelimits.htm
- If your income level is greater than the program allows, you can find
energy saving, utility billing shaving ideas at the U.S. Department
of Energy's Energy Savers web site http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/energy_savers/