LANSING (WWJ/AP) – Michigan utility regulators say natural gas customers should see slightly lower bills this winter because of falling prices – while customers who rely on propane and heating oil probably will pay more than last winter because of higher crude oil costs.

The Michigan Public Service Commission released its winter energy appraisal Thursday. The commission forecasts adequate energy supplies this winter and normal temperatures.

The appraisal says annual demand for natural gas, electricity and propane will be higher in 2011 than 2010 because last winter was colder than normal and July was extremely warm. Assuming normal winter weather, Michigan residents using natural gas will see a decrease in average winter heating bills.

The appraisal also says it expects gasoline sales to drop 1.7 percent this year from 2020 because higher prices are causing drivers to buy less fuel. It predicts diesel fuel sales will drop by 1.5 percent. Customers using heating oil and propane will likely see an increase since their pricing is largely tied to the increased cost of crude oil.

In Michigan, 80 percent of households heat with natural gas; 9 percent use propane; 7 percent use electricity; 4 percent use heating oil; and 2 percent use other fuels.

To view the complete Energy Appraisal report, visit


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