Last year's brutal winter is continuing to hit gas bills - Toledo News Now, Breaking News, Weather, Sports, Toledo

Last year's brutal winter is continuing to hit gas bills

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

A Sylvania resident and Columbia Gas customer Ruth Ritchie says she got a huge spike in her heating bill and she feels she shouldn't have to pay.

"I blew a royal gasket," said Ruth.

Ruth Ritchie lives on her social security income and relies on Columbia Gas' budget billing, where your payments are spread over 12 months so you don't see a huge spike in the winter.

Ruth says she just received her new budget for the next year and she's not happy. She says her payment jumped from $57 to $96 a month.

"I paid it," said Ruth. "And they want me to pay half as much again, just in case. We're going to have to have a super cold winter to use that much from what they want me to use!"

Ruth believes she already paid for the higher amount of natural gas that everyone used during the last historically cold winter. She is so angry she canceled her balanced billing and will now pay for the exact amount she uses each month. Her new amount is now $29 and she says she'll save up for what she will have to pay this coming winter.

Columbia Gas Manager Chris Kozak says the company just released the winter projection for the budget payment plan and customers will pay about 20% more than last year.

"So we are still seeing natural gas prices higher than they were last year," said Kozak. "That's really a reflection of the winter we had, 2013 to 2014. It's got a little hangover heading into this upcoming winter heating season."

Kozak says customers can look for ways to reduce their natural gas consumption by adding insulation to their home. 

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