The Next Energy Crisis?

How the natural-gas shortage is hurting the economy--and what it will do to your heating bills

Bob Horton has survived the arrival of Home Depot and more economic downturns than he can remember. Yet this winter may be the last for his 40-year-old plumbing and heating supply shop in Osceola, Iowa, just south of Des Moines. The heating bill at his business soared to $602 last month, up from $250 a year earlier. He can't raise prices without losing customers, and he has tried everything to save energy, from installing insulation to heating with a high-efficiency furnace. "It's going to break us," he says of his fuel bills. "We can't pay the overhead."

This winter has been...

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