Natural Gas Jump Still Looming, but Not as High

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – A NorthWestern Energy spokeswoman says natural gas prices are still expected to go up this winter, but not by the breathtaking margins feared in August.

But organizations that help the poor with heating costs are still expecting more demand than ever for their services, and the federal government is poised to deliver huge increases in funding for low-income energy assistance.

NorthWestern spokeswoman Claudia Rapkoch says the utility expects gas prices to be between 10 and 15 percent higher this winter season, which runs from Nov. 1 to April 1, than last.

That’s far lower than the 50 percent increase Montana Public Service commissioners were warning about in August.

Gregg Groepper (GREPP’-er) is executive director of Energy Share Montana. He says even the smaller increases will break many household budgets.