Thursday, December 07, 2000

Gas costs leap, bills will, too

CG&E ready to ask for higher rates

By Mike Boyer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Colder-than-expected weather has sent wholesale gas prices soaring more than 100 percent higher than last year, causing Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co. to raise its estimates of what customers can expect to pay this winter.

        CG&E hasn't yet calculated what that increase will mean for residential and commercial customers, but it expects to file a revised estimate of its expected gas costs with utility regulators in Ohio and Kentucky soon, possibly later this week.

        “We're looking at future prices for January in the $8.50 per mcf (thousand cubic feet) range,” Steve Brash, CG&E spokesman, said. “That compares with an expected gas cost of $6.10 per mcf just about month ago.”

        The actual rate paid by customers is slightly different because of adjustments, but last year, CG&E said wholesale prices for December through February were about $3.77 per mcf.

        The increases would come on top of what CG&E previously estimated: residential gas prices about a third higher than a year ago for the December-through-February period.

        Natural gas futures Wednesday blew past a record high set just this week, surging as much as 19 percent on mounting fear that frigid weather will drain inventories of the heating fuel before the end of winter.

        Bloomberg News contributed to this report.


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