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Cost of Warmth Could Burn Pocketbook

Posted November 12, 2007

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— Some residents could be in for an expensive winter, with heating oil prices skyrocketing.

The price of heating oil is up 24 percent over last year, costing more than $3 a gallon for the first time.

Kerosene costs are similarly going up, and propane prices jumped recently after a pipeline serving the Southeast ruptured and went offline for more than a week.

Residents in the Northeast will feel the pinch from higher heating oil prices the most, while North Carolina homeowners won't be affected as much because only 11 percent of homes use heating oil. Another 13 percent power their furnaces with propane.

"I think it's going to be an OK situation. I think it's going to be more expensive – the price is going to be higher – but if we get by with a mild winter, than that will balance out," said Mike Walden, an economist at North Carolina State University.

About half of North Carolina's homes are heated by electricity. Progress Energy increased residential rates by 1.3 percent in October after a 5.4 percent increase last year.

Natural gas is used to heat 24 percent of homes statewide. The nation's natural gas storage supply is at an all-time high, but PSNC Energy spokeswoman Angie Townsend said that doesn't guarantee rates won't fluctuate during the winter.

"Having a strong amount of natural gas storage is great news because it provides stability for wholesale prices," Townsend said. "A lot of time, our weather might be mild. But if they're having extremely cold weather in other parts of the country, that applies pressure to wholesale prices for natural gas."

PSNC customers will notice a different rate structure this year. Last year, the company charged a higher rate for people who used less gas, but the utility scrapped that plan after customers complained.

All residents now pay the same rate, but it increases during the colder months.

"These people who have natural gas probably are going to come out best," Walden said, adding that  home heating oil users will take a double hit because they're already being squeezed by high gasoline prices.

30 Comments

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  • whatelseisnew Nov 13, 2007

    Hmm Katrina - last I knew Katrina was a Cat 5 Hurricane. Not sure which politician caused that hurricane to happen. Call me simple minded. I was in Florida for Andrew. Now stupid me, what did I do? I got out of its way. So except for the people that were physically unable to get out of the way so the Mayor let em drown, Katrina was the fault of the people that did not get out of the way.

  • TheWB Nov 13, 2007

    Here are a few estimates I "researched"
    http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/servicerpt/ogp/analysis_summary.html

    http://www.anwr.org/backgrnd/potent.html

    My favorite part from link below;

    Building a Toyota Prius causes more environmental damage than a Hummer that is on the road for three times longer than a Prius. As already noted, the Prius is partly driven by a battery which contains nickel. The nickel is mined and smelted at a plant in Sudbury, Ontario. This plant has caused so much environmental damage to the surrounding environment that NASA has used the ‘dead zone’ around the plant to test moon rovers. The area around the plant is devoid of any life for miles.

    http://onemansblog.com/2007/03/27/prius-outdoes-hummer-in-environmental-damage/

  • wildervb Nov 13, 2007

    TheWB,

    Do a little research on Lithium batteries they don't present much of an environmental hazard as older types of batteries do and of course will be re-cycleable.

    Your estimate on what we can get from Anwar is grossly exagerated. The most I've ever read about is the possibility of 2 years of oil there. I'm not against ever developing it, I'd just hate to see us use it all up and still not have developed alternatives.

    The money we wasted on the war in Iraq could have funded major investment in conservation, solar power, wind power even Nuclear power.

    We could have given each of our domestic auto manufacturers major finacial incentives to build more efficient cars.

    I prefer to look for solutions, not blame. There are solutions to our oil problem. But Digging up and burning our last remaining resources isn't one of them.

  • 68_polara Nov 13, 2007

    Shine, you pretty much nailed it

    This is a funny place we live in - We blame a President that has only been there for 2 terms. Did you blame Carter when there were "Gas Lines", Oh soon to forget - did you for911, did you forget Katrina? Now whose fault was that.

    You can take any 1 term or 2 term President that you want and blame them for everything.

    WHY DON'T YOU PEOPLE WAKE UP AND BLAME THE 'LIFERS' THAT ARE UNDER HIM THAT HAVE BEEN THERE WWWAYYYYY TOO LONG AND ARE PUTTING THIS MONEY IN THEIR BACK POCKETS BY MAKING SURE THE VOTES ARE "CORRECT" DEM OR REP OR WHATEVER.

    Wake up America - Your next President is not going to be any better than the last how ever many - if you don't get the "RATS" out of the house.
    Click to view my profile

  • TheWB Nov 13, 2007

    -Better Hybrids (like plug-ins with lithium batteries) are right around the corner, a little further down the road maybe fuel cells.
    Why don't you get to work on those wildeverb, Toyota, GM, Ford and the boys are having a little trouble with efficiency. Plus the awful industrial waste to manufacture batteries is messy stuff that would eat right through hemp sandals. Additionally buying time for technology to catch up is what I said a stable, affordable energy source would afford us. I can probably find a link, but the estimates I've seen for the Anwar oil shed is for 30+ years. Off shore estimates rival those of Anwar maybe more. Another benefit speaks to your concern for war, if we become less dependant on foreign sources maybe there will be less need to protect our interests abroad, ya think?

  • wildervb Nov 13, 2007

    Funny how Carter got so much blame for a gasoline crisis that started in 1973, when Nixon was still President. That was the year of the Arab oil embargo and the year of the worst gas lines.

    The re-Writing of History is an interesting thing.

  • doodad Nov 13, 2007

    wildverb, I agree. People need to be more energy conservative. Develop technologies that reqiure less energy and stop building all these mega houses.

  • whatelseisnew Nov 13, 2007

    Actually President Carter did get blamed back then. It was one of the reasons he was not a viable candidate for a second term. I was one of those setting in the lines for gas and dealing with the every other day rationing. However, I did not blame the President for that; the fault lies with us. We put the clowns in Congress and we get what we get. I take a simple approach to my voting these days. I never vote for an incumbent. If I don't like the person running against that incumbent, I typically vote for the Libertarian candidate. I know it is not likely to happen , but I would love to see us eliminate every current office holder at every level of Government. Then if we do not like what that group does get rid of the them on the next go around.

  • shine Nov 13, 2007

    This is a funny place we live in - We blame a President that has only been there for 2 terms. Did you blame Carter when there were "Gas Lines", Oh soon to forget - did you for911, did you forget Katrina? Now whose fault was that.

    You can take any 1 term or 2 term President that you want and blame them for everything.

    WHY DON'T YOU PEOPLE WAKE UP AND BLAME THE 'LIFERS' THAT ARE UNDER HIM THAT HAVE BEEN THERE WWWAYYYYY TOO LONG AND ARE PUTTING THIS MONEY IN THEIR BACK POCKETS BY MAKING SURE THE VOTES ARE "CORRECT" DEM OR REP OR WHATEVER.

    Wake up America - Your next President is not going to be any better than the last how ever many - if you don't get the "RATS" out of the house.

  • wildervb Nov 13, 2007

    Hey TheWB, it looks like your the one doing the blaming, "hemp sandle wearing special interests groups"

    If you would do a little research you would find that even with all the Oil in Alaska and off-shore oil we would only add a few years of new supply. Doing this would also hinder the development of alternatives. Why not save some of that oil for the next generation. Even if we don't use it for energy in the future it would still be valueable for making other products. (Plastics etc.)

    Even Mexico had a drop off in production this year, they've been pumping a long time too.

    It would be far cheaper to become more efficient, like better gas mileage than drilling our few remaining pockets of oil.

    Better Hybrids (like plug-ins with lithium batteries) are right around the corner, a little further down the road maybe fuel cells. We should be investing in this, rather than useless wars.

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