Heat­ing costs likely to be higher this win­ter

The Oklahoman - - BUSINESS - Adam Wil­moth aw­ilmoth@ ok­la­homan.com 3,000 2,000 1,000 0

Win­ter heat­ing for most Amer­i­can house­holds likely will be more ex­pen­sive this year than over the past two win­ters, the U.S. En­ergy In­for­ma­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion said this week.

The ex­pected rise in costs is likely to be led pri­mar­ily by colder win­ter tem­per­a­tures, along with a slight in­crease in fuel prices, the govern­ment said in its an­nual Win­ter Fu­els Out­look, which was re­leased Wed­nes­day.

Win­ter weather is ex­pected to be about 13 per­cent colder than last year and closer to the av­er­age over the pre­vi­ous decade, ac­cord­ing to pro­jec­tions from the Na­tional Oceanic and At­mo­spheric Ad­min­is­tra­tion. At the same time, com­mod­ity prices are trend­ing up slightly, with larger in­creases in propane and heat­ing oil than in elec­tric­ity and nat­u­ral gas, the re­port stated.

The av­er­age nat­u­ral gas-heated house­hold is ex­pected to spend $644 on heat­ing ex­penses from Oct. 1 through March 31, up 12 per­cent from one year ago. The in­crease of $69 for the win­ter is based on a pro­jected 9 per­cent in­crease in con­sump­tion and 2 per­cent in­crease in price.

The na­tional av­er­age for homes heated by elec­tric­ity is ex­pected to be up 8 per­cent to about $980 for the win­ter, although Ok­la­homa is one of the low­est­cost states for elec­tric con­sump­tion.

Propane costs are ex­pected to av­er­age $1,661 this win­ter, up 18 per­cent from one year ago. Homes warmed by heat­ing oil are ex­pected to see a 17 per­cent in­crease to $1,462 for the win­ter.

While the trend could drive up costs for con­sumers, it could pro­vide at least a mod­est boost for the state’s oil and nat­u­ral gas pro­duc­ers, as well as state and lo­cal cof­fers. Win­ter nat­u­ral gas spot prices are pro­jected to av­er­age $3.30 per thou­sand cu­bic feet, up 5 per­cent from last win­ter.

Be­sides in­creased pro­jected U.S. con­sump­tion, pro­duc­ers also are ben­e­fit­ing from in­creased nat­u­ral gas ex­ports. Last year, the United States was a net im­porter of nat­u­ral gas, av­er­ag­ing about 600 mil­lion cu­bic feet per day.

This win­ter, how­ever, the coun­try is ex­pected to be a net ex­porter for the first time. EIA fore­casts show the coun­try’s pro­duc­ers ex­port­ing about 1.4 bil­lion cu­bic feet of nat­u­ral gas per day this win­ter, boosted by both in­creased pipe­line ca­pac­ity to Mex­ico and new liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas ex­port­ing ca­pac­ity on the Gulf Coast.

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