MILWAUKEE -- Some Wisconsin utilities companies predict customers could see their lowest heating bills in years, thanks to low natural gas prices and a mild winter.
Customers of Milwaukee-based We Energies can expect savings of around 25 percent compared last year's heating season. That translates into a savings of $150 for the six-month heating season, with a projected total heating bill of $446.
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The latest forecast is an update from We Energies' initial estimate in October, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. Wisconsin's largest utility reports that in November and December alone, a typical customer saved about $85 on heating costs.
We Energies' new estimate is based on normal temperatures the rest of the winter. If that estimate holds, customers of the utility would see bills about $350 below what they averaged for five consecutive years until 2010. At that time, it cost nearly $800 for the six-month period for a typical residential customer.
In Madison, Alliant Energy Corp.'s Wisconsin Power and Light utility also reports a big drop in utility bills. Bills are down about 30 percent for November through January compared with the same period last year, Alliant spokeswoman Annemarie Newman said.
Customers of Wisconsin Public Service Corp. can expect to see savings of up to 35 percent from the same period last year, said Kerry Spees, a spokesman for the Green Bay-based utility.
A typical customer of Wisconsin Public Service spent about $450 during the heating season last year. That could drop to just over $300 this season. That utility's heating season runs from November through March.
"This could be the lowest that we've seen in quite a long time," Spees said. "It hasn't been this low since the turn of the century."
Natural gas prices have remained low, and temperatures in Wisconsin have been near to above normal so far this season. Through January, temperatures in the Milwaukee area were about 17 percent higher than last winter and 14 higher than the 20-year average.