High Costs to Drive Up Winter Fuel Bills

October 5th, 2005- Posted at 6:30 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO, AR--We've been getting hammered at the gas pumps and with winter coming on, home heating costs are expected to be painful too.

Hurricane Katrina, drought like conditions, higher than normal temperatures, and fuel transportation problems are adding up in the fuel industry.

"You put all of these things together and you have got most everyone in the industry faced with some extremely high prices and many people struggling just to keep the lights on," said Ron Bowen, manager of City Water and Light.

With winter on the way millions of Americans will look to keep their homes warm with a hot commodity, natural gas.

"It's probably most adversely affecting the natural gas industry but that has a huge impact on the electric industry because so many people generate with natural gas," said Bowen.

Even if your electric provider is not heavily dependent on natural gas, you should still expect your bill to go up because prices are up across the board because our whole economy is impacted by fuel and power costs.

Because of CWL's reliance on coal, customers should not expect to see a huge hike however, if you do have natural gas you can expect to see an increase of 10 to 25 percent on your bill this upcoming winter.

"We are very fortunate that we have extra coal so even with the reduced burns our customers are probably going to be in a minor impacted area," said Bowen.

Natural gas prices at the wellhead are forecasted to be 57 percent higher than the forecast from a year ago. That would translate to household natural gas bills being between 10 percent and 26 percent higher than a year ago.