WisBusiness: Heating cost forecasts all over the map

By Brian E. Clark

There is a wide range of winter heating cost predictions coming from utilities that serve Wisconsin.

MGE and Alliant Energy, both of which are based in Madison, are forecasting that the cost of heating our homes will rise between 5 and 10 percent – based on normal winter temperatures.

Milwauke-based We Energies says its natural gas customers can expect to see home heating costs dip 1 percent to 5 percent this winter, assuming continued stability in natural gas markets and normal weather.

Elsewhere, Wisconsin Public Service Corp. in Green Bay says customers will see similar to or slightly higher rates than last year.

And Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, which serves parts of Western Wisconsin, says typical residential customers are likely to see heating costs about 13 percent higher than a year ago, mostly because last winter’s warm weather means customers used less natural gas.

That forecast is in line with a 12-state federal Energy Information Administration winter outlook that predicts an 11 percent increase.

We Energies spokesman Brian Manthey says his company is aware of the federal report, but noted that We Energy is basing its forecast on its own service territory, which should have milder weather than the 12-state region.

We Energies prediction is backed up somewhat by a National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration report that says Wisconsin weather should be milder than normal from December through March.