Consumers Energy Customers May See Higher Heating Bills

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DTE Energy Corp.'s MichCon has plans to give customers a break this winter, cutting heating bills by nearly $40 a month less than last year.

The early projections, made by the Michigan Public Service Commission, said the drop in cost comes a year after natural gas prices skyrocketed following Hurricane Katrina.

The average MichCon bill is projected at $165 a month this winter, compared with $201 last year, the commission said.

Meanwhile, customers of CMS Energy Corp.'s Consumers Energy could see a slight increase, from an average monthly bill of $163 to $168.

The difference in last year's bills for MichCon and Consumers’ customers reflected how Hurricane Katrina, which damaged both offshore platforms and onshore processing plants, affected each utility, The Detroit News reported in a story published Tuesday.
Consumers had a bigger supply of natural gas bought at lower prices before the hurricane, while MichCon had to buy more gas at prices that spiked after the hurricane.

Natural gas prices are about 50 percent below last year for several reasons, mainly because there hasn't been another storm of Katrina's magnitude.

The commission releases its annual winter energy appraisal in October.

MichCon serves 1.3 million customers in Detroit, southwestern Wayne County, Washtenaw County and other parts of Michigan.

Consumers has 1.7 million natural gas customers, mostly in Oakland and Macomb counties and the central Lower Peninsula.