Get Ready for Super-High Electric Bills This Winter

Natural gas supply crunch has Americans bracing for costly winter
By Mike L. Ford,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2022 2:23 PM CDT
Get Ready for Super-High Electric Bills This Winter
   (Getty - nicoletaionescu)

Perhaps it’s too much to simply hope for a mild winter. Otherwise, Americans can expect ever-higher utility bills, according to the Wall Street Journal, as experts forecast an average 35% jump in home-heating costs compared to 2020. Of course, high energy costs are nothing new in 2022, especially in the South and other hot-humid places, which already experienced elevated air-conditioning bills all summer. And though gasoline prices have fallen steadily for months, natural gas has continued to soar, driving up utility costs across the US, where roughly half of home-heating and nearly 40% of electrical generation comes from natural gas.

Major supply shortages across Europe due to Russian cuts and other effects of the war in Ukraine are at the root of current price spikes. However, as the Journal notes, other factors are preventing gas and electricity providers from alleviating the strain, which is "particularly acute in New England," where millions have already seen utility prices more than double. Natural gas remains king there until the region’s numerous renewable-energy projects become operational, but that won’t happen this winter. Utilities can’t do much to alleviate the crunch, since many coal plants are now offline—and coal is also in short supply.

Per USA Today, a sixth of Americans are already behind on their utility bills. That’s according to the nonprofit National Energy Assistance Directors Association, whose executive director warns that "the rise in home energy costs this winter will put millions of lower-income families at risk of falling behind on their energy bills." The situation appears more dire in Europe, where officials warn of rationing and blackouts, and energy-intensive industries are being forced to cut production and furlough workers, according to the New York Times. In Germany, "firewood is the new gold," per the Washington Post, which reports that residents there are "dusting off" old wood-burning stoves as thieves steal logs off trucks and scammers establish fake wood-selling websites. (Read more energy costs stories.)

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