The short-term price of natural gas in the Northeast eased on Wednesday after surging during the cold snap this week, but many consumers face the prospect of higher bills as utilities seek to pass along the added costs.
Already, several utilities, including Connecticut Light and Power as well as National Grid and NStar, which serve Massachusetts, have recently announced increases in their retail electricity rate as they struggle to meet peak periods of demand.
On Tuesday, for example, spot prices for a few large energy customers in the region spiked nearly 10 times higher than national prices as demand for electricity and heat soared and overwhelmed pipelines taking gas supplies to the region from the south and west.
(Read more: $125 billion: The cost of extreme weather in 2013)
Many power providers compensated by importing more gas from Canada through pipelines that have been mostly underused in recent years and through imports of liquefied gas supplies.
Utilities also bought more coal- and oil-fired power, which is normally priced higher than gas but has recently been lower because of constraints in gas pipelines.