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If this winter hasn’t been hard enough, now word that natural gas prices are likely going up significantly next month.

Utilities watchdog group the Citizens Utility Board issued a warning to public and preliminary number are out for Nicor customers.

We haven’t seen the likes of natural gas prices like this from Nicor since 2010.

17 cents per therm, for your typical household means an increase in the price of gas for your home of more than $40 between February and March this year. That’s if you were using the same amount of gas as the prior year. The truth is  we are not. We are using more this season because of the wicked weather patterns plaguing Chicago.

That means homeowners should brace themselves and prepare to pay more to heat their homes.

The issue is pressing enough at Nicor that some larger industrial customers are being asked to curtail their usage. Is it a precaution? Or is there a threat of a shortage?

Nicor released a statement saying in part, “… we have taken more proactive measures than our normal operating practices to ensure that we can continue to serve our residential customers, including securing additional supply, continuing to utilize our in-state underground storage and asking some of our larger customers to temporarily curtail their usage.”

People’s Gas not going quite that far saying,  “We are aware the Midwest’s natural gas system is challenged – this is the coldest winter in 35 years and we are still seeing sustained below freezing temperatures in Chicago this week- however Peoples Gas has a different system in a geographically condensed area (city of Chicago) compared to Nicor.”