Natural gas costs on the way up, Xcel says

Natural gas costs are slowly climbing, but the cost of running a home this summer could be less than it was last summer.

Xcel plans to increase home and small business energy bills by 7.8 percent starting July 1.

The increase will tag on an extra $4.56 to the typical home energy bill and add $7.48 for the average small business owner, bringing the totals to $63.05 and $101.83, respectively.

Xcel Energy proposed a rate increase for July 1, 2008 that was 66.7 percent higher than the one proposed for this July. Last summer, Xcel customers paid typically $73.78 for a home and $119.57 for a small business.

The proposed 7.8 percent increase is a consequence of fuel and energy purchasing forecasts that indicate prices will go up for both. Natural gas prices hit a peak last July before plummeting until May 1, when prices began a slow — and bumpy — recovery, according to the New York Mercantile Exchange. Forecasts vary, but all indicate natural gas prices will increase in 2010.


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