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82 percent increase in natural gas futures has officials worried

If you thought last winter was bad for your heating bill, just wait.

Natural gas futures have gone up 82 percent since Jan. 1. They're now the highest in 2.5 years.

Wisconsin utilities say there's still a chance they'll go down by winter but Kerry Spees of Wisconsin Public Service calls the current natural gas prices scary.

One reason is a longer-than-expected shutdown in a major supply network.

Some analysts blame investor speculation - the same reason you're paying $4 a gallon for gasoline.

Wisconsinites are already paying for the high natural gas prices in their electric bills.

That's because more power plants are fueled by gas.

It's partially why the state's five publicly-owned utilities have risen their rates by $210 million since Jan. 1.

Wisconsin Focus on Energy is urging homeowners to fight back now, by plugging leaks and adding insulation. In some cases, you can get rebates for it.

Focus on Energy and the state's Energy office are working with school districts that were caught off guard by last winter's price spikes.

Some northern Wisconsin schools are throwing out their natural gas systems in favor of units that burn wood and pellets.