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Heating cost hike forecast

'Some are not at all prepared'

An oil delivery truck makes a turn onto Dresser Street while on rounds to Southbridge customers Friday morning. Gus Steeves. (click for larger version)
October 17, 2010
As the thermometer falls toward freezing, most people have already planned how they'll heat their homes this winter.

Or so they hope, since they'll probably need more money to do it than last year.

On Oct. 13, the federal Energy Information Agency's latest quarterly Short Term Energy Outlook projected heating the average New England home will cost $259 more because of rising prices and cooler temperatures, compared to last winter.

That worries emergency fuel providers such as Sharon Legasey, president of the Spencer chapter of Hearts for Heat.

"I've heard a lot of people say they're already filling their oil tanks, but some are not at all prepared and already have a balance on their oil or gas bills," she said. "… I think it will be really hard on people [this winter], and your average family will start looking for ways to get help."

Her nonprofit agency served 36 families between Jan. 20 and March 22 this year and referred 15-20 to larger fuel-providing agencies such as Citizen Energy (Joe for Oil) and the Worcester County Action Council. They raised about $8,000, but spent about $10,000 providing fuel — and expect to need almost double that this year, she said.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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