Friday, December 02, 2005

Winter heating bills not so bad

Good news for consumers when it comes to energy prices, for once!

Winter heating bills won't sock people quite as hard as feared this month because mild weather so far has driven down prices for natural gas.

Bills will probably rise 25 percent this month from a year ago, Pacific Gas & Electric announced Thursday. That's still stiff, but not as severe as the 38 percent the utility had forecast. And it's a relief from the 70 percent hike seen in October and 50 percent in November.

The increase in gas bills has steadily slackened since Hurricanes Rita and Katrina severely battered natural gas production along the Gulf Coast. Natural gas is used to fuel furnaces and hot water heaters in most households.