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Charlotte restaurant owner concerned rising gas prices could impact consumers

Prices have doubled in the United States and are up nearly five times in Asia and Europe.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Natural gas prices are rising in the Carolinas and across the country.

The price of natural gas has doubled in the United States since last year, according to reports including one from CNBC. In Europe and Asia, prices are fives times higher. 

The surging costs are partly attributed to increased demand as the world economy improves but also a decreased supply caused by weather events.

The price of natural gas in the U.S. has exceeded $5 per BTU, the unit used to measure gas. That price is up sharply from $2 during most of the past 24 months. Natural gas bills could be as much as 30% more for U.S. consumers this winter, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. The average cost to heat a home could rise to $750 compared to $572 over the same months last winter.

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Inside Pressley Park Restaurant near Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte, owner Crystal Koutsogoulas told WCNC Charlotte she is concerned about the impact on her business.

"10% wouldn't be fun, but we could sustain that," Koutsogoulas said. "Thirty or more that would be crazy."

These prices would impact not on the business but also customers.

"Obviously, if it goes high we are going to have to pass on costs to consumers," she said. "We want to avoid that at all costs. Maybe take the initial impact and try to get over another hurdle."

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There is help available for low-income homeowners to pay their heating bills. The Low Income Energy Assistance, or LIEAP Program, works to keep the heat on. 

Anyone who qualifies will receive assistance. Applications can be filled out by calling a local Department of Social Services, or visiting DSS on line. Mecklenburg County has information online to help those who qualify.

Piedmont Natural Gas also offers important cost-saving information on its website.