Winter Heating Costs May Rise As Gas Prices Climb

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WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ A return to normal temperatures could mean a significant rise in heating costs this winter as historically low natural gas prices also move higher.

The Wichita Eagle ( ) reports Kansas Gas Service, with 630,000 customers across the state, expects customer bills to rise about 6 percent from November to May, compared with last year's costs.

Black Hills Energy, with more than 600,000 customers in Kansas and neighboring states, predicts gas prices will average 10 percent to 12 percent higher this year nationwide.

The Midwest has seen unseasonably mild temperatures over the past two winters, and coupled with low gas prices have given residents a break on their heating bills.

But that's likely to change as weather forecasters are calling for temperatures to go back to normal.