Heating prices on the rise nationwide, including in Duluth
DULUTH, MN -- With the cost of natural gas on the rise across the country, experts anticipate a hike in heating costs this winter.
“Gas prices are on the rise and obviously we live in a winter-filled state, so that’s going to cause the cost for us utilizing those heating sources to go up because we use it more than probably most,” said Courtney Gallo with Comfort Systems, Duluth’s natural gas utility.
Gallo says there’s more than just one cause.
“It’s a combination of colder winters and supply and demand. Inflation plays a big part of it. It’s just a bunch of factors that are culminating into higher utility bills this coming winter,” she said.
In Duluth, natural gas comes from two different pipelines.
“One northern natural gas pipeline comes out of Gulf. [Another goes through] the Great Lakes and comes from Canada down to Michigan,” said Pete Upton with Comfort Systems.
If the gas supply is pulling from the Great Lakes’ pipeline, demand is much lower, but when temperatures drop, the gulf pipeline helps supplement the city.
The demand from that pipeline goes up if the rest of the country experiences more cold.
“[The gas] that is coming from the Gulf, feeds all the way up and there’s a lot of demand on that pipe, so prices skyrocket,” said Upton.
Electric heating prices in Duluth are less subject to national price hikes.
“We don’t have quite the same exposure to the market, as you might see in the nation where it’s more like 40% exposed to the gas market,” said Tina Koecher with Minnesota Power.
Minnesota Power gets most of its energy mix from local renewable energy, instead of the national market.
“We don’t expect to see the extremes that you may hear about nationally,” said Koecher.
Only about 10% of their customers use electric heating, meaning it’s less common, plus the base cost of electric heating tends to be higher.
For the vast majority of Minnesotans, natural gas price hikes will likely reflect an increase in costs.
“It’s hard when there are external factors that we have no control of and unfortunately, we have to be the kind of gatekeeper,” said Gallo.
Minnesota has a cold weather rule in place from October 1 through April 3t that makes sure people won’t lose their heating during the winter even if they can’t pay.
If you are struggling with the cost of your utilities, both Minnesota Power and Comfort Systems have programs in place and encourage you to reach out.
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