Grand Rapids - Before Hurricane Katrina hit, forecasts called for Michiganders to pay 25% more this winter to heat their homes with natural gas. Now, their bills could rise as much as 70%.
And, the state's most vulnerable people may have trouble paying those bills. Government programs to provide emergency fuel assistance have run dry, and it's not clear if they will have enough money to meet increasing demand when the new funding cycle starts in October.
Thursday, Governor Granholm told WZZM 13:"We're doing all we can to see if there is a creative way to ensure that we've got enough funding to help people with emergencies over the winter." Granholm said that may include turning to private sector donations, or, the American Red Cross.
The destruction of energy facilities in the Gulf of Mexico is receiving some of the blame for the natural gas price spike. Also, demand for the product is increasing. Increasingly, power plants burn natural gas to power their electrical generating facilities, especially during peak conditions like those experienced during our hot summer.