Oil prices continue to rise as Hurricane Katrina damage reports filter in.

September 8th, 2005

How Katrina Affects Natural Gas Costs

The following report by Call 4 Action reporter Meghan Jones first aired Sept. 8, 2005, on Channel 4 Action News at 5 p.m

There has been a lot of talk about the cost of gas for your car, but what about natural gas to heat your home this winter?

The Energy Information Administration said Wednesday that damage from Hurricane Katrina could mean price hikes as high as 71 percent for the Midwest. What does that mean for western Pennsylvania?

Any increase depends on a number of factors. The Hurricane Katrina effect comes into play regarding how quickly oil rigs and refineries damaged by Hurricane Katrina can be repaired. Channel 4 talked to several local gas companies who said not to panic.

Local homes were not damaged by Hurricane Katrina, but it doesn’t mean they won’t feel the effect of the storm.

Rob Boulware of Columbia Gas said that should not worry local customers.
“The bottom line is that it is not etched in stone — that 71 percent was for five specific states, and Pennsylvania wasn’t one of them.
What we do know is that prices are going to increase as we head for the fall,” said Boulware.

How much? It’s too early to say.
Natural gas prices fluctuate quarterly and depend mostly on weather and usage.

“Well, we’ll make our adjustments for the final fall period Oct. 1. But there are a lot of things people can look to this winter heating system,” said Boulware.

First, you can get on a budget payment plan where you pay the cost of heating your home over 12 months.

You can also ask your company for a choice program for price predictability.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program is a federal program for low-income people.
But there are also common sense solutions, such as making sure windows and doors are sealed, or getting a programmable thermostat.

But, what is the long-term solution?
Gas companies typically do not get all of their gas supply from one particular area. However, the Gulf region contains so many oil refineries.

“It would probably be a good thing if we could relocate some. We have a disproportionate number located in this region that are susceptible to the hurricanes, obviously. So, it would be better if we had more refineries,” said U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham.

Copyright 2005 by ThePittsburghChannel

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