Natural gas may not be the cheaper fuel

Despite claims that natural gas is cheaper and cleaner than coal, gas prices might not go down any time soon.

The Arctic cold that hit a majority of states over the last two months has utilities warning homeowners to be ready for a high gas bill as natural gas prices and consumption reached five-year peaks, The Washington Post reports.

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While prices jumped by two-thirds over the past year, a forecast of mild temperature for early March has prices falling 11 percent, making predictions of gas prices a difficult trade.

Industry groups and consumer advocates are arguing that gas prices will continue to climb if the Obama administration continues to issue permits for companies exporting the product.

But America's Natural Gas Alliance, a group of producers, says it's the unusual cold snap that is to blame for the short-term pain being inflicted on consumers.

“January was the 10th coldest on record, not just a spot of cold,” said Erica Bowman, chief economist of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, a group of gas producers. “On Jan. 7, we saw the highest withdrawal from storage, 137 billion cubic feet, ever. And we still see prices $6 or less. I would say that’s a pretty good sign of how robust the system is.”

But industrial customers don't agree.

With the Energy Department giving the green light to six export terminals for liquefied natural gas, demand for natural gas might increase 12 percent in the U.S., the America's Energy Advantage group told The Washington Post.