Associated Press, Journal Sentinel staff
With prices surging worldwide for heating oil, natural gas and other fuels, the U.S. government said Wednesday it expects households to see their heating bills jump as much as 54% compared to last winter.
Nearly half the homes in the U.S. use natural gas for heat, and they could pay an average $746 this winter, 30% more than a year ago. Those in the Midwest could get particularly pinched, with bills up an estimated 49%, and this could be the most expensive winter for natural-gas heated homes since 2008-09, according to the forecast by the U.S. Energy Information Administration
The federal estimate issued Wednesday follows a forecast issued this week by the state's largest utility, We Energies. That analysis assumes "average" winter weather compared with the federal forecast which says the winter will be slightly colder than normal.
That analysis done by We Energies "predicts the typical residential customer will pay $25 more a month this winter compared to last year," assuming an average winter weather. That would increase the typical residential customer's bill about 30% from $80 last winter to around $105.
"This increase is mainly due to tight supplies as well as a worldwide increase in demand for natural gas," We Energies said in a statement that was released with its analysis.
We Energies serves 1.1 million natural gas customers in Wisconsin.
"This forecast matches what we sent out on Monday, that we expect the natural gas price spike will impact customer heating bills this winter," We Energies spokesman Brendan Conway said Wednesday.
Wisconsin Public Service Corp., which along with We Energies is owned by WEC Energy Group, said the typical residential customer will pay $40 more a month this winter compared to last winter, assuming average weather conditions.