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Winter Prediction: High Chance of Expensive Heating Bills for WV

October 8, 2007

Charleston, WCV - The forecast this winter calls for a high chance of expensive heating bills due to price increases for natural gas, fuel oil, and propane. Lisa Kesecker with the Governor's Office on Economic Opportunity says heating costs have gone up over the last few years and that is especially hard on West Virginia, which has a high percentage of low-income residents compared to a lot of other states. She says many thousands of West Virginians pay half their incomes or more for heating in the winter.

"We have a large population of working poor and elderly citizens on fixed incomes, who cannot respond to these high fluctuations in energy bills. They are often behind in their payments."

Kesecker says with energy costs going up, it really pays to weatherize, especially for people who have trouble paying their heating bills. She says the state offers weatherization help for low income West Virginians.

"When a home is weatherized, energy bills and fuel consumption rates are reduced every year for many years to come. It is a really good investment, especially for the working poor and those on fixed incomes."

Kesecker adds help is available at the federal and state levels, and from utility companies, for payments as well as weatherization costs. However, limited funding means the money runs out each year, well before all eligible West Virginians are covered. If you think you'll have trouble paying your heating bills, she suggests contacting your utility company this month to see what options are available.

Rob Ferrett/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WV