Monday, October 17, 2005

Rising gas prices pinch poor

With an interruption in domestic supplies of Natural Gas, California's poorest are paying the greatest price:

Hurricane-related damage to Gulf Coast natural gas facilities will cost Inland Empire homeowners and businesses this winter, with heating prices expected to rise sharply.

The federal Energy Information Administration has predicted that home heating bills will increase by an average of 48 percent nationwide this year.

Locally, the cost to heat homes and businesses with natural gas could jump as much as 55 percent this winter, said Southern California Gas Company spokesman Peter Hidalgo.

Among consumers, the poor and the elderly on fixed incomes will be hardest hit, experts said.

"We've never had prices this high and it's never happened this quickly," said Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors' Association, which helps administer low-income heating programs.

"For low-income families, this will truly be a crisis."