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US pressed to release heating aid

Higher utility bills expected this winter

Anticipating cold temperatures and higher utility bills in coming months, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is urging federal officials to start releasing $3.47 billion in government funds allotted to help needy families pay to heat their homes.

Massachusetts households that are kept warm by oil heat — about 39 percent — can expect to spend a record $2,500, on average, this coming winter, according to a forecast released earlier this month by the federal Energy Information Administration. By comparison, residents who heat with natural gas can expect to pay $1,010 on average, as prices hover near 10-year lows.

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