Washington, D.C. — The American Gas Association (AGA) commends the President and Congress for moving swiftly to pass and enact legislation that aims to lessen the severity of economic challenges before us. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes critical provisions that will enable Americans to conserve money by using energy more efficiently.
AGA worked diligently over the past weeks to ensure the inclusion of language that would incentivize revenue decoupling and provide funds for home weatherization. Taken together, these provisions will provide natural gas customers with valuable reasons to become more energy conscious in their everyday lives.
The ARRA provides up to $3.1 billion in conditional funds to states that commit to decoupling rates and modernizing building codes.
“Aligning the interests of utilities and their customers will allow utilities to become even more valuable energy providers to their customers,” said David Parker, president and CEO of AGA. “Decoupling will bring a sea change to the way utilities do business and encourage them to help their customers be even more efficient in their daily use of energy.”
Decoupling breaks the link between utility earnings and customer energy use, and will help to ensure that customers are aware of the amount of energy they are using. The 16 states that have implemented natural gas decoupling have found that these programs have been very well received. “Ultimately, consumers will see that the more efficient their appliances are, the less energy they use and the less money they spend,” Parker said.
Along with helping customers improve their energy efficiency, the expanded adoption of decoupling should help utilities help their customers reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and lower their carbon footprint. Using efficient natural gas appliances can be an important first step in reducing the carbon footprints of American homes. For example, the average natural gas water heater has a carbon footprint about half the size of an average electric water heater.
Also included in the stimulus bill is expanded federal funding for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which will enable low-income families to reduce their energy bills by making their homes more energy efficient.
“AGA has worked tirelessly so that the stimulus would include common-sense methods for Americans to achieve energy efficiency and, eventually, energy security. We are pleased that lawmakers have taken several steps in that direction,” Parker said.