Cold stretches inflate energy bills

Cold stretches inflate energy bills Click to Enlarge Photo:

Jan 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KNSI) — The core of Minnesota has battled through extreme deep-freeze conditions - and the cost to heat a home stands to increase.

Pat Boland, Manager of Credit Policy for Xcel Energy, says gas prices have remained relatively flat, and the way people are using heat, and how efficient their homes are, will make the greatest impact on the cost of their bills for the season. 

"With the extreme weather we've experienced, bills are going to be higher," Boland says. "How much higher? That's up to the individual customer."

One thing is certain - greater energy usage translates to bigger bills. Xcel Energy customers used about 29 percent more natural gas this past December than in December 2012. Customers used about 19 percent more natural gas than expected for December.

Xcel Energy spokesman Tom Hoen says their system is well prepared to handle the extra usage. It's something they plan for while keeping up with the forecast.

Becca Virden with CenterPoint Energy confirmes, with that high demand will come higher-than-expected monthly bills.

She says the average customer might see their bill double. Virden says if you're anticipating having a problem paying your bill, contact your utility right away.

She says there is still energy assistance funding available through the Low Income Heating Assistance Program administered through the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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