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Hurricane Likely To Drive Natural Gas Prices Higher

The prices Ohio consumers pay for natural gas - already at record highs - will probably go even higher because of Hurricane Katrina. WOSU's Sam Hendren reports

Ohioans have been paying rapidly escalating natural gas prices since the winter of 2000. Two-thirds of Ohio homes are heated with natural gas. And according to Columbia Natural Gas of Ohio spokesman Doug Flowers, the current volatile market means consumers will likely pay more this winter

The current natural gas prices are at record highs and if this trend continues, customers may receive higher monthly gas bills even with normal temperatures this winter.

Now factor in the loss of production caused by the hurricane and that, says Flowers, means increased volatility. Janine Migden-Ostrander, head of the Ohio Consumers' Council, predicts there won't be relief from high prices until production capacity increases several years from now. She says the best thing Ohioans can do is reduce their energy consumption

That could have the impact of bringing down the demand and bringing down the prices of natural gas. And that is probably the best short term solution. If they engage in conservation, they can reduce their consumption and thereby reduce their bills.

Migden-Ostrander recommends that customers sign up for leveled billing from energy providers, and they should check natural gas prices being offered by various marketers. Sam Hendren WOSU News