Energy consumers are in for a hard winter. That’s according to meteorologists at WeatherBELL Analytics. The forecasters say current weather patterns are “flowing along right now into the type of El Niño situation that is notorious for giving the United States cold, snowy winters, especially in the southern and eastern part of the United States, relative to the averages.” They say that pattern, combined with new restrictions on power plants could spell high energy prices, black outs, and other problems. Last year’s harsh winter set new record lows for temperatures in parts of the U.S. That sent demand for heat and power surging, bringing the electrical grid to near its breaking point. Meteorologists say that sort of winter would be worse this year, with power plants planning to close in January over new regulations. They say the only way for current providers to handle the demand would be using coal, which was used to produce 92 percent of the extra power during the cold stretch. They say natural gas power plants lacked the supplies and infrastructure to keep the lights on and green energy was unable to generate power in fierce winter weather.