Homeowners who heat with natural gas are seeing large increases in their heating bills this winter, according to a recent blog post by the Washington Post.

“Utilities are warning homeowners that they are about to get hit with a double whammy — higher natural gas prices and consumption, both of which have been driven to five-year peaks by the Arctic cold that gripped much of the country in recent weeks,” The Post reports.

Con Edison in New York estimated that the typical home-heating customer would see a gas bill this month of $388, which would be nearly 17 percent above last February, according to the article.

“Gas prices have soared over the past year, despite talk of fracking and a shale gas revolution that was supposed to provide enough supply to ensure stable prices, lure petrochemical jobs back from overseas, replace coal power plants and feed large new export terminals,” the article states.

The price increase raises questions about energy policy based on expanded use of natural gas, “Does it make sense to build new gas-fired power plants? Or export gas? Or channel it into feedstock for petrochemical plants? Or to fuel truck fleets that now run on diesel?” the article asks.

“Big businesses and consumer advocates have been arguing for some time that gas prices would climb if the Obama administration continues to give out permits for companies to start exporting, and the surge in prices is adding fuel to that argument,” The Post writes.

The article quotes America’s Energy Advantage, an association of manufacturers such as Alcoa, Dow Chemical and Nucor: “Americans are getting hit in the wallets by huge price spikes and supply shortages, but it will only get worse if we send more natural gas overseas to our global competitors. It’s bad enough now, but this is an eerie foreshadowing of the crisis to come unless there is a change in course.”

“The Energy Department has issued permits for six export terminals that would liquefy gas and load it onto tankers. The America’s Energy Advantage group says those export projects alone would add 12 percent to current U.S. natural gas demand. Industrial customers and power companies switching to gas-fired plants would add even more demand,” The Post writes.

Even analysts who are sanguine about the abundance of newly accessible shale gas are raising their price forecasts, The Post reports.

To read the Washington Post article, click here.