Northeastern states are facing a difficult choice this winter: Increase the heating assistance benefit to adjust for higher energy prices and thereby reduce the number of households served or provide a smaller heating assistance benefit to a large number of homes. The key concern for the Eastern region is the rapid rise in heating oil prices.
The Northeastern situation is unique. The Energy Information Administration has projected that prices in the Northeast for home heating oil could go as high as $1,879 this winter, about 25 percent higher than last year’s level. In comparison, the price of natural gas, the other major heating fuel in the Northeast, is only expected to increase 9.1 percent. This is of particular concern to the Northeast, since the region uses 75 percent of the heating oil used in the nation.