Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today held a press conference announcing that natural gas customers can expect plentiful domestic natural gas supplies to meet consumer needs, as well as excellent value from their energy dollar during what is still a very uneven period of economic recovery for the nation.
“Natural gas customers will feel even warmer this winter knowing they made the affordable choice to cleanly and efficiently heat their homes,” said David Parker, AGA president and CEO. “Continuing investments in natural gas production, pipeline and storage infrastructure, and applications for the most efficient direct use of natural gas has positioned our diverse supply sources to meet and even exceed expected demand during the coldest winter months.”
Some factors, particularly severe weather, could affect the demand for, and the price of, natural gas and thus winter bills. However, AGA Managing Director of Policy Analysis Chris McGill reminded the attending media that creating a portfolio of natural gas supply for residential and small commercial customers is a process that occurs over time. Primary pricing mechanisms tend to be market based so natural gas price increases and decreases are reflected in consumer bills. Stability in the market today and the near future is a positive element for natural gas customers in the months to come.
Mark Wolfe, executive director of the National Energy Assistance Directors’ Association, and George Coling, executive director of the National Fuel Funds Network (NFFN), also joined the press briefing and discussed the importance of Congress acting to fully fund the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is currently appropriated at only $3.3 billion for fiscal year 2011 despite the fact that the FY2010 and FY2009 level for LIHEAP was funded at the fully authorized amount of $5.1 billion. If states are forced to operate at the $3.3 billion level, this will mean a roughly 40 percent cut to their budgets.
At the media briefing, AGA also unveiled an energy analysis titled “Energy Bill Payment Assistance to Low-Income Households Increases, but the Need for Help Continues” . The report points out that while energy bill payment assistance to low-income households has increased significantly over the past two years, more assistance continues to be necessary: “While 8.8 million households benefited from federal energy assistance programs in FY2010, about 80 percent of those eligible did not receive LIHEAP heating assistance,” the report noted.
“The task before us is great,” said Coling. “We must continue our efforts to increase LIHEAP funding to $5.1 billion for FY 2011. If LIHEAP is not funded at the same level as it was in FY2010, even more eligible families will not be able to receive this critical funding. This level of commitment must continue if we are to help the millions of people in need.”
For more information about energy-saving tips and home-heating assistance provided to consumers by local natural gas utilities, please visit www.aga.org.