AGA: Natural Gas Still Most Affordable Heating Fuel
Domestic abundance means stable prices even in case of severe weather
Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) announced today that it expects natural gas to remain the most affordable heating option for most residential customers across the United States. While customer bills are likely to rise slightly as a result of various market forces, the abundant supply of domestically-available natural gas has contributed to lower production prices that, along with robust storage levels, are poised to help ensure a steady supply of energy at a lower cost than other home heating fuels. Mild temperatures should also keep any increase in natural gas bills modest at no more than 5 to 10 percent compared to last winter.
"We see market forces working to offset any upward pressure in prices this winter," said AGA's Director of Policy Analysis Bruce McDowell. "Gas customers may still enjoy heating bills that are among the lowest of the past decade. Natural gas is still the fuel to beat."
Customers who heated their homes with natural gas during the 2011-2012 winter heating season saw average savings of 70 percent compared to those using heating oil and 32 percent compared to those using electricity, according to the Energy Information Administration. Efficiency measures on the part of utilities and energy users also contribute to lowering bills; in 2011, natural gas utilities helped customers save a total of $300 million nationwide – approximately $107 per household.
AGA also discussed the challenges surrounding gas-electric coordination in the Northeast, where increased natural gas demand for power generation spurred by the low price of gas has some concerned that service may be interrupted during peak times. "The key to reliability and better coordination between gas and electric transmission industries is the continued development of a robust natural gas infrastructure along the entire value chain so that natural gas can be delivered wherever and whenever it is needed to those who value it the most," said AGA’s Senior Managing Counsel for Regulatory Affairs Andrew Soto. Soto commended the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its leadership on gas-electric coordination issues, and noted AGA's support for FERC's proposal to allow natural gas pipeline operators and electric transmission operators to share information to promote planning and reliable service. "AGA members take the safety and reliability of their systems very seriously and build portfolios of assets to help ensure that the service needs of their customers will be met," Soto concluded.
In an economy that has been recovering slowly, many American families will struggle to heat their homes this winter. Despite the fact that bills last year were the lowest in a decade, 2.4 percent of AGA member customers were unable to make sufficient payments and the number of those late on their bills increased slightly. Funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program remains critically important to those in need. Recognizing that Congress faces difficult fiscal decisions, AGA and its member companies continue to advocate for greater certainty and responsible funding levels for this vital program.
For more information about natural gas price trends and home-heating assistance provided to consumers by local natural gas utilities, please visit www.aga.org.