Natural Gas Prices on the Rise, Just in Time for Winter

Natural Gas Prices on the Rise, Just in Time for Winter

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Samantha Hayes Reporting There's a definite chill in the air. That means your furnace either has or is about to kick on. But just like driving our cars, heating our homes this winter is going to cost a lot more. Natural gas prices were expected to jump nationwide, and now it's official for Utahns.

Questar is requesting a 13-percent increase in its rates. If the Public Service Commission of Utah approves Questar's request, you may be paying around 12 dollars more a month. For many Utah families, that will be more than they can afford.

Sherman Roquiero knows its going to be a tough winter for a lot of Utahns. He manages the state program "HEAT" and says this year it will have to do much more.

Sherman Roquiero: “We expect to see a 10 percent increase at least in our numbers. So maybe 3000 or more people extra this year than we’ve seen in the past.”

Qualifying families must make $18,000 a year or less for a family of four. That's an expected total of 37 thousand Utah families. The program typically pays 25 percent of the year’s bill. That's about 210 dollars a family.

Across the country natural gas prices could rise as much as 71 percent according to the Energy Department. In Utah, Questar Gas is asking for a 13 percent increase, or about 12 dollars a month for the typical customer.

Sherman Roquiero: “Twelve dollars a month, what is that , 144 a year? That's a big amount. That's going to hit them hard. Their income doesn't go up 12 dollars a month. It won't go up maybe a dollar a month so that's going to hit them hard.”

Utility Assistance programs are also available through the Red Cross. Mariann Geyer says they try to help everyone who falls within the guidelines.

Mariann Geyer, Greater Salt Lake Chapter Red Cross: “We are full every day, people applying, asking for appointments, meeting with counselors. Every day we have people here.”

Questar gas suggests energy saving tips on its website and a Budget plan that spreads the annual costs of gas out through the year..

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