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Heating bills rise as temperatures fall

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  The cold winter has Wisconsinites red hot about their utility bills.

The state's largest natural gas utility, We Energies, said a typical customer paid in the neighborhood of $160 to heat a home last month. That's up from $118-dollars the previous January.

We Energies' customers used record amounts of natural gas last month. Still, utility spokesman Brian Manthey said they're paying 25-percent less than in January of 2009 -- We Energies' record month for high heating bills. That's because the wholesale cost for natural gas was a lot more expensive back then. Manthey said the utility's records show that the first three months of this winter were the sixth-coldest on record. Milwaukee is having its coldest winter since 1982.

The Wisconsin Public Service utility of Green Bay said its customers paid an average of $154 for natural gas last month, up from $124 a year ago.

The National Weather Service said Wausau is shivering through its 10th coldest winter since the 1890's. Wisconsin Power-and-Light gas customers in the south central region are paying about 30-percent more this year -- and their usage has risen by about the same amount.