Heating costs going through the roof
With winter looming and energy prices surging, many western Nevada County residents are bracing for higher heating costs.
Recent propane and natural-gas price increases, coupled with early season rains and cooler temperatures, could make it feel like winter already for many people.
In some cases, residents with enough storage capacity stockpiled propane gas this summer, hoping to avoid the runup in prices.
“I don’t know how high it will get this winter,” said Doug Robertson with ACE Propane. “This is higher than it has been last year. My gas has been flabbered.”
Propane prices nationally are expected to be 16 percent higher than last year, said Lesley Garland, president of the Western Propane Gas Association, citing a recent federal Energy Information Administration projection.
Natural gas prices are expected to climb significantly as well, local energy officials said, declining to make a projection.
Area resident Ray Janssen, who uses propane, is concerned by the rapid price escalation.
“I’m wondering, when so many of our families are struggling to make ends meet, how they’re going to cope with this and stay warm this winter,” said Janssen, a Banner Mountain resident.
Janssen said he paid $1.63 per gallon for propane in August and $2.43 last week.
ACE Propane customers already pay $2.30 a gallon, up from last winter’s high of $2.13, Robertson said.
Eagle Valley Propane of Grass Valley customers pay about $2.35 per gallon, up from nearly $2 a few months ago, said district manager Ken McGregor.
More residents in the Sierra foothills use propane to heat their homes because many outside the city limits have no access to natural gas lines, said PG&E spokesman Paul Moreno. It’s difficult to put natural gas lines in such rocky locations, and some area residents are in remote locations, he said.
Natural gas is at $1.24 per therm for area residents, which isn’t yet as high as January’s seasonal high of $1.33, Moreno said.
It all goes back to the usual supply and demand concerns, officials said.
“Productivity (of gas) is down,” McGregor said. “At the same time, there is heavy international demand and low storage levels.”
Heating options are limited for people in remote locations, Robertson said.
Area residents facing high heating prices should make plans to conserve home energy usage, Garland said. “You can turn down your thermometer a degree or two and put on warmer clothes,” she said.
To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 477-4234.
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