Record natural gas prices spur cutoffs

Oct. 12, 2005 at 4:28 PM

CHICAGO, Oct. 12 (UPI) -- The average Illinois resident will pay $600 more for natural gas to heat a home this winter thanks to hurricanes and rising demand.

Ed Hurley, Illinois' special director of emergency energy assistance, gave the downbeat forecast Tuesday during a congressional hearing in Chicago.

Peoples Gas said 30,000 Chicago residents have been disconnected and 14,000 more are eligible for disconnection, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Peoples Gas, Nicor Inc. and Ameren Corp. said there is not enough money to help low-income customers through the winter.

U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, Bobby Rush, Dan Lipinski and Danny Davis, all D-Ill., said record-high natural gas costs will hurt low- and moderate-income households.

"We know this crisis is coming," Schakowsky said.

Lipinski predicted that "seniors will be forced to choose between heat and medication."

The three natural gas providers, in an agreement with the state, will waive reconnection fees and deposit requirements for people who get heating-bill help through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

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