Friday, October 9, 2009

Iowa Natural Gas Heating Bills to be Lower this Winter

Energy Dept. report says natural gas prices lower

by Matt Kelley on October 7, 2009

in Business & Economy

A new federal report is backing up predictions from Iowa’s two largest utilities that foresee a drop in Iowans’ heating bills in the winter ahead. The U.S. Department of Energy report says natural gas supplies are up while demand — and prices — are down. Roger Cooper, executive vice president with the American Gas Association, says it translates to more money in consumers’ pockets.

Cooper says, “If you’re heating your home with natural gas, you can expect your heating bill to be lower this winter, about 12% lower nationally and if you are fortunate enough to live in the Midwest, it may be down as much as 15%.” A report last month from MidAmerican Energy estimated Iowans’ heating bills could be as much as 40%lower this winter, while Alliant Energy predicted a 20-percent drop. Cooper says there are several reasons for the natural gas price decline.

“Production is up about two-percent over last year and secondly, the economy is bad,” Cooper says. “About a-third of the natural gas used in this country goes into industrial use. So, if factories are slowing down or closed, we’re not using as much natural gas, that puts more natural gas out into the marketplace and it drives down the price.” Cooper expects more people will use natural gas in the future, though there is only a fixed supply.

“The current estimate from the potential gas committee at the Colorado School of Mines, which is the authoritative expert on this, is that we have over a hundred years supply of natural gas in the United States with today’s existing technologies,” Cooper says. “So, if we can improve technologies, we can look at improving the supply from 100 years to a few hundred years.” Cooper says all energy needs to be used wisely and even with lower prices, people should continue to conserve energy and weatherize their homes.

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