Staying warm to cost up to 90% more
U.S. households can expect to pay sharply higher monthly heating bills this winter, with the increases ranging from 45% to 90% in much of the country, utility companies and weather forecasters warn. Surging energy prices, which have been climbing since spring, come at a time when many households are contending with higher mortgage-finance costs, higher taxes that accompany increased real estate assessments and property-insurance price increases the past two years.
John Tuccillo, former chief economist at the National Association of Realtors, says these creeping demands on household incomes will cut U.S. economic growth by three-quarters to 1 percentage point next year. Raphael Bostic, a professor of urban economics at the University of Southern California, says fixed-income and low-income households will be hardest hit.
Higher energy prices are now the No. 1 concern of most small and midsize business owners, a PNC Financial Services Group survey revealed Thursday.
Alabama Power pondering temporary rate increase
After four hurricanes tore through Florida last year, three of the state's five major electric utilities won temporary rate increases to help cover the cost of repairs and other expenses. With Alabama Power Co. now estimating its tab from Hurricane Katrina at a minimum of $70 million, the Alabama Public Service Commission will probably decide by year's end whether to take a similar route, a spokesman for the state regulatory agency indicated Thursday.
The highs and lows of Katrina
Saturday, Sep 17, 2005
To the state's three gas utilities, who are all asking for rate increases as state regulators warn that gas bills for residential customers will double this winter.
Those three companies, CenterPoint Arkla, Arkansas Western Gas and Arkansas Oklahoma Gas, have all by themselves changed Arkansas from a low-cost gas state to one where gas bills for residential consumers are now higher than the national average.
Those companies will be sending you a little note in the mail sometime soon telling you to either chill out during the winter or expect to pay a king's ransom to keep warm.
Natural gas bills expected to rise 71%, PG&E says
KATRINA & RITA: Utility blames hurricanes for enormous jump in home heating costs
Saturday, October 1, 2005
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. warned Friday that Northern California home heating bills would leap 70.8 percent in October as hurricanes Katrina and Rita drive up natural gas prices nationwide.
The storms smashed through a thicket of offshore rigs that supply roughly one-fifth of the nation's natural gas.
Americans dealing with record high gasoline prices caused by the hurricanes now also face the prospect of a painfully expensive home heating season. Utilities across the country are bracing their customers for increases ranging from 55 to 75 percent.
Katrina Hits Bay Area Pocketbooks Again
SAN JOSE -- The economic heat on Bay Area resident is about to increase with Friday's announcement by utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric that it will raise natural gas rates by 71 percent for October in the wake of Katrina's damage in the Gulf.
The utility claims it has no choice after Hurricane Katrina damaged a major portion of the nation's natural gas generating capabilities along the Gulf Coast. The rate increase will impact residents from Bakersfield north to the Oregon border.
The utility said for the average residential customer a 71 percent increase translates to $17.45 more for the gas portion of their bill this October compared to a year ago.
Electric bills join natural gas boost
9 October 2005
Combined increases will raise cost to average consumer by 33%
Colorado consumers will get hammered with a major increase in electric bills - on top of soon-to-soar heating costs - under a price hike filed Wednesday by Xcel Energy.
Xcel asked state regulators to approve a 30 percent increase in monthly electric bills, effective Nov. 1. For the average residential customer, monthly electric costs would rise $16 a month, from the current $53 to $69. The price hike is a direct pass- through to consumers as a result of increased costs to Xcel.
Xcel further forecasts that winter heating bills for typical residential customers will increase by $44, from $127 last December to $171 this December.
The combined monthly costs for electricity and natural-gas heating this December would be $240, a huge jump of 33 percent from last year.
"It's going to be bad, really bad for consumers,"
JEA Announces Another Rate Increase
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - JEA has announced it is raising its rates again to cover soaring fuel costs. The community-owned utility company raised its rates by an average of $7 in November 2004 and then again by $10 in April. Now, JEA wants to raise utility rates by another $12.
JEA officials said Hurricane Katrina's impact on the Gulf Coast put such a squeeze on fuel prices that they have no choice but to raise their rates again.
"Two things are happening: Fuel has come up more than we predicted when we had the increase, and that was before Katrina," JEA Vice President of Marketing and Strategies Randy Boswell said. "And after Katrina, they have gone up 30 to 40 percent."
If approved, the latest increase could cost the average customer an additional $12 per month. Including the latest increases, JEA customers are paying an additional $29 more monthly on their utility bills. That's an additional $348 per year.
Mass. utility to seek jump of 28 percent
Request called biggest in 25 years
Massachusetts Electric Co., the state's largest utility, said yesterday it will seek to raise rates for its 1.2 million customers by 28 percent starting in November because of soaring global energy prices.
The rate increase is the biggest sought by an electric utility in the state for at least 25 years, regulators said, and would cost the average homeowner $17.50 a month. Larger businesses, which normally pay higher rates than residential customers, could see increases as high as 50 percent.
Unitil asks for 60% hike
From school districts to shopping malls, Unitil Corp. is asking for an average 60 percent hike in electric rates for about 150 of its largest commercial and industrial customers because of rising fuel costs. Similar increases are possible in the coming months for both business and residential customers of Public Service of New Hampshire, according to an official with the Public Utilities Commission, which approves rate increases.
"The rate increase we're seeing for Unitil customers is the largest increase we've seen in electric rates in the last 15 to 20 years," said F. Anne Ross, the PUC's consumer advocate. "It's a warning signal and it's certainly a sign to be careful about energy use going into the winter season."
A PSNH spokesman doubted rates would surge as high as Unitil's.
Granite State Electric, which serves the Salem area and parts of western New Hampshire, also is requesting rate hikes for 29 large New Hampshire business customers. The kilowatt-hour charge would change each month, rising 43 percent in November and by 81 percent in January, compared to current Granite State Electric figures.
Narragansett Electric proposes 24 percent rate increase
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) -- Rhode Islanders are dealing with high gasoline prices. They may be facing high electricity bills soon, too.
Narragansett Electric has proposed increasing rates by 24 percent, which, if approved, would raise rates to their highest level ever.
The request was made yesterday to the state Public Utilities Commission, and would take effect on October First. It's believed to be the largest increase made by Narragansett Electric in at least 25 years.
The proposal would mean a typical customer would pay 184 dollars more a year.
The utility says the increase is necessary because energy costs have risen sharply recently, partly because of Hurricane Katrina.
On top of that, New England Gas has asked the P-U-C to raise rates by 13 percent.
SCE&G seeks 50 percent gas rate increase
September 24, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- Consumers would pay 50 percent more for natural gas this winter under rates South Carolina Electric and Gas has proposed.
SCANA, SCE&G's parent company, is asking the Public Service to allow it to raise the portion of customers' bills that pays for gas by 57 percent on average. That would boost the average charge from $121 a month to $172, or 42 percent.
The state Office of Regulatory Staff will review the rate increase request. "I've been in the business a long time and I don't recall anything of this size," agency executive director Dukes Scott said. "In the winter time, when people start getting the bills, we'll hear from them."
CenterPoint, Reliant plan double-digit rate jumps
Two local utilities plan to dish out increases in electric and natural gas bills.
A typical customer of Reliant Energy, the city's largest power provider, can expect to see bills go up by 14 percent beginning at the end of October. Another hike is expected Jan. 1.
And for the second time in two months, a typical customer of CenterPoint Energy will see natural gas bills grow, this time by 11 percent.
The increases are being blamed on skyrocketing natural gas prices, which have climbed 98 percent since early July.
Reliant asked the Texas Public Utility Commission on Monday to let it increase the so-called fuel factor it charges customers beginning as early as the end of October. The increase is expected to be approved.
This would increase Reliant's per kilowatt hour rate from 12.88 cents to 14.70 cents. A bill for a home using 1,000 kwh per month would grow from $128.80 to $147.
On Jan. 1, the per kilowatt hour rate is expected to increase again, to 16.04 cents, representing another 9 percent increase in that monthly bill.
Reliant could have increased the price to 16.04 cents earlier, but it reached an agreement with the PUC to phase the increases in two steps, said Jim Robb, vice president of retail marketing.
PSE natural gas rates set to jump
Puget Sound Energy customers will see their natural gas rates rise next month by nearly 14 percent -- $11.31 a month for typical households -- boosting the average monthly residential rate to $96.48.
The new rates, which take effect Saturday, are the highest ever charged for natural gas in this state, according to the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, which announced its approval of the price hike Wednesday.
The increases are not related to recent hurricane damage in the Gulf Coast region, whose impact on natural gas prices here isn't expected to be felt until next year.
Bellevue-based PSE, the state's largest provider of natural gas, described the rate hike as a ``pass-through'' change, meaning that the company is not making any additional profit from charging the higher amount.
Dorothy Bracken, a spokeswoman for PSE, said the higher rate reflects what the utility company has been paying for the past six months to secure natural gas supplies from wholesale providers.
The cost for natural gas has been steadily going up for the past three years, Bracken said, attributing the price hikes to the ``supply and demand phenomenon'' in the energy market.
WPS seeks 17% electric rate hike
Wisconsin Public Service Corp. on Thursday adjusted its 2006 request for an electric rate increase to 17.1 percent.
The Green Bay-based utility said the increase was prompted by higher natural gas prices. The natural gas in this case is used by Wisconsin Public Service and its suppliers as fuel for generating electricity, as opposed to the natural gas it distributes to people for heating their homes.
For a typical customer using 630 kilowatt hours, the monthly electricity bill would increase $11.19 per month.
The company added 5.7 percentage points to the earlier rate increase request.
And in Canada as well:
BC Utilities Commission approves October natural gas rate increase
September 15, 2005
The BC Utilities Commission approved a natural gas commodity rate increase today that will add about 13.3 per cent to the annual bill for a typical Terasen Gas residential customer in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, North and Kootenays.
This works out to an annual increase of about $155 to $180 depending on consumption levels. The new rates take effect October 1, 2005. Delivery rates are not affected by this increase.
Natural gas rates in Fort Nelson will increase 28 per cent. Propane rates for Revelstoke will increase 13.3 per cent while propane rates in Whistler will rise 5.7 per cent.
Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast, and Powell River Squamish gas customers will see no rate change since they are covered by a different regulatory agreement.
Since June, natural gas commodity prices have risen more than 30 per cent, driven by increased demand brought on by a hot summer, the rising price of crude oil and disruptions to supply caused by Hurricane Katrina.