Heating bills likely to increase

The Kentucky Public Service Commission on Tuesday warned that consumers are likely to see higher heating prices this winter because of the rise in natural gas costs.

”Natural gas prices this summer have hit levels not seen since the fall of 2005, when supplies were disrupted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita,“ PSC Chairman David Armstrong said in a statement. ”Although prices have fallen in recent weeks, it still seems likely that heating costs this winter will be higher than in the last two years.“

Under the law, utilities pass on the costs of natural gas to consumers directly, making their money instead on transport fees.

The cost of natural gas typically accounts for about 75 percent of an overall bill.

And that cost is skyrocketing. Kentucky's five major natural gas distribution companies have said their gas costs are, on average, 65 percent higher than a year ago, the PSC said.

The PSC urges customers to weatherize their homes and also sign up for budget payment plans that spread natural gas costs throughout the year.

Columbia Gas of Kentucky is holding its annual August enrollment period now for its budget payment plan.

To learn more about that plan, call 1-800-432-9345.