UTILITIES: Severe winter will hike heating bills

The Times Board of Economists - Economic update from Karl Stanley, NiSource executive director of energy supply and trading
2014-02-02T00:00:00Z 2014-02-02T00:05:53Z UTILITIES: Severe winter will hike heating billsBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com
February 02, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The severely cold winter weather will drive heating bills higher, but moderate natural gas prices should prevent a return to the skyrocketing bills seen from 2005 through 2009.

So far natural gas prices are in line with NIPSCO's winter forecast, but the weather has turned much colder than predicted. That means customers will see higher bills driven by the volume of natural gas they are consuming.

"It's not just the severity of the cold, it's the consistency of the cold," said Karl Stanley, NiSource executive director of energy supply and trading.

On the electricity front, the full price impact of new pollution regulations is yet to be fully felt.

NIPSCO is in the midst of a multi-year project to install $739 million in pollution control equipment at its electric generating stations. Some other large investor-owned utilities are following the same path, while others are mulling what to do.

"There are plants that are close to completely fulfilling the requirements and others still have work to do," Stanley said.

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