USA Today
Arctic blasts creating record demand for natural gas

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The latest blast of frigid temperatures pushed residential and commercial demand for natural gas to its second-highest total on record Tuesday.

With temperatures plunging over much of the country, demand is just 4% below the all-time record set Jan. 7, when the polar vortex engulfed much of the Midwest and Northeast with Arctic temperatures. A second cold this week blast pushed thermometers well below zero in parts of the Midwest. Meanwhile, demand is rising in the South, where up to 50 million people face a rare bout of freezing temperatures, snow and ice.

January has already set seven of the top 10 all-time demand days for natural gas.

"You have these intense cold swaths affecting large population areas, and that's what drives use,'' said Jack Weixel, Denver-based director of energy analysis for Platts Bentek Energy.

About half the U.S. households use natural gas as their primary heat source. The Energy Information Administration has said a 10% colder than forecast winter could boost fuel bills by 25%.

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