Author Archives: Lisa Dundon

Lisa Dundon

About Lisa Dundon

Lisa Dundon is the Manager of Digital Communications for the American Gas Association. Prior to joining AGA, Lisa served as Manager of Multimedia Communications for the Senator John Heinz History Center, "the Smithsonian's home in Pittsburgh," and as a Web Producer at WPXI-TV, Channel 11 News in Pittsburgh, PA. Lisa is a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in Communications.

Lisa Dundon LIHEAP Advocates Make Push For Greater Funding on Capitol Hill

More than 150 advocates from around the country descended upon Capitol Hill Wednesday in support of responsible funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) sponsored LIHEAP Action Day 2014 along with member companies of the American Gas Association (AGA) and the Edison Electric Institute. The day-long event is aimed at building awareness for LIHEAP. The federal block grant program provides financial assistance to low and fixed-income individuals for fuel and utility bills, as well as low-cost weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

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Representatives from Entergy meet with Rep. Bill Flores (TX-17) to discuss LIHEAP funding. Photo Credit: Entergy

Dozens of LIHEAP advocates met with members of Congress and their staff, and took to social media advocating for $4.7 billion in LIHEAP funding for FY2015. You can share your thoughts about the importance of LIHEAP by using the hashtag #LIHEAPAction.

After many years of underfunding LIHEAP, Congress funded the program at $5.1 billion in FY2009 and FY2010. Since then, funding has been cut drastically from $4.7 billion in FY2011 to less than $3.4 billion for the current fiscal year. President Barack Obama’s 2015 budget request is for $2.8 billion. These funding cuts have resulted in smaller assistance grants and fewer households served, severely limiting the program’s effectiveness.

This winter’s record breaking cold temperatures have been a stark reminder of why the LIHEAP program is so critical. Here are just a few other reasons:

  • According to the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau, more than 46 million people live in poverty – the largest number in the 52-year history of published poverty estimates.
  • Even with LIHEAP funding at $5.1 billion, the amount was only enough to assist 1 in 5 eligible Americans.
  • The average low- and fixed-income family spends 13.5 percent of its annual household income on energy – almost twice the 7.2 percent spent by the average U.S. household.
  •  LIHEAP supports veterans and seniors. The number of veteran households served by LIHEAP increased by more than 150 percent over three years. Roughly 40 percent of LIHEAP recipients are seniors.
  • Roughly 75 percent of households receiving assistance earn less than $15,000 a year and 50 percent earn less than $10,000 a year.
  • Almost all recipient households support someone who is disabled, elderly, or have a child under six.
  • Home energy insecurity can lead to diminished child health, home fires and deaths, choices of “heat or eat” and homelessness.
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NEUAC’s John Rich presents U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski with the Extra Mile award. Photo Credit: NEUAC

LIHEAP Action Day concluded with a Congressional reception and the presentation of the NEUAC Extra Mile award given to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), recognizing for her longtime support of the program.

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Lisa Dundon Dave McCurdy: Natural Gas Provides U.S. With Incredible Opportunity

This week, AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy participated in the National Journal’s Energy Insiders blog to respond to their question, “How Best Can We Use Natural Gas? Should We At All?” His response is posted below and you can also visit the National Journal Energy Insiders blog to view the entire comments thread.

“The United States has an incredible opportunity because of our abundance of clean natural gas. When used effectively and appropriately, natural gas can meet our national goals of boosting our economy, improving our environment and increasing our energy security. To do this, we need policies at every level of government that are in line with the savings and environmental benefits currently being achieved throughout the country.

Direct use – using appliances in your home that run on natural gas – is the most efficient way to use this domestic resource and it saves consumers money. A typical new home with natural gas saves between $500 and $1,300 annually compared with other fuel sources. Using natural gas as a transportation fuel costs drivers half as much on average as gasoline or diesel. Lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle and leaders in every sector of our economy are investing in natural gas – not because they are required to, but because it offers real savings, real stimulus and real solutions.

Bolstered by affordable and stable prices, communities are seeking greater access to natural gas for use in homes, businesses and vehicles, and this clean energy source is driving a renaissance in manufacturing. We envision a future where natural gas not only provides energy for homes and businesses, but runs a significant number of our vehicles, generates power and supports other forms of renewable energy. North America’s robust natural gas resources are positioned to satisfy significant new natural gas demand at affordable and competitive prices well into the future.

From production to your home or business, the natural gas delivery system is 92 percent efficient and deemed the safest energy delivery system in the nation. A concerted effort by America’s natural gas utilities and others is making it safer and cleaner. Our nation’s energy future will be built on the foundation of the more than 2 million miles of natural gas pipelines operated by America’s natural gas utilities – a 21st century infrastructure capable of providing safe and reliable service to our customers today and serving the nation’s energy needs tomorrow.”

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Lisa Dundon AGA Members Join Together To Bring Awareness to LIHEAP Enrollment in Western PA

Legendary Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris helped four utility members of the American Gas Association located in Western Pennsylvania kick off the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) for the 2013-2014 winter heating season.

The “Partners for Warmth” — comprised of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, Equitable Gas Company, Peoples Natural Gas, and Peoples TWP — have been helping low-income customers in the Pittsburgh area afford their winter heating bills for more than two decades. Nearly 510,000 residents, half of which were households with children, kept their heat on last winter thanks to this unique partnership. Approximately $141 million in LIHEAP funds are available again this year, but Partners for Warmth officials are urging area customers to apply as soon as possible.

partners for warmth AGA Members Join Together To Bring Awareness to LIHEAP Enrollment in Western PA

“We all know a friend, neighbor or family member who may have fallen on tough times. Anyone who is having trouble paying their heating bills should find out if they are eligible for LIHEAP assistance and apply as soon as possible,” said Harris, honorary chairman of the partnership.

LIHEAP is a block grant program under which the federal government gives states annual funds to operate home energy assistance programs for low-income households that struggle to heat their homes in the winter and cool them during the hot summer months. To date, approximately $2.9 billion of FY 2014 block grant funding has been released to LIHEAP grantees, representing about 90 percent of the FY 2013 funding. AGA continues to advocate for responsible funding levels and greater certainty surrounding funding release and distribution.

Eligibility guidelines for LIHEAP change, and customers who may not have been eligible in the past are encouraged to reapply. For the 2013-2014 winter heating season, the income eligibility limit is 150 percent of federal poverty income guidelines. For more information about eligibility, click here. To learn about Partners for Warmth, visit www.partnersforwarmth.org, and for additional details about LIHEAP funding and how to apply, visit www.liheap.org.

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Lisa Dundon AGA Incoming Chairman: Natural Gas Provides Solutions for Our Economy and Our Environment

The American Gas Association (AGA) hosted a media roundtable breakfast this morning to introduce 2014 AGA Chairman Gregg Kantor, president and CEO of NW Natural. At the event, Kantor discussed the theme for his chairmanship, “Solutions for Our Economy and Our Environment,” outlining how natural gas offers the potential for a stronger economy and a healthier planet.

“America’s natural gas utilities can bridge the divide between an either/or approach to fostering economic growth and protecting the environment,” said Kantor. “With natural gas we can do both and so much more.”

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Incoming AGA Chairman for 2014 says natural gas provides solutions for our economy and our environment.

As AGA Chairman, Kantor said his top priority will be to continue to deliver natural gas in a safe, clean and responsible manner. To achieve this goal, Kantor noted, the industry must work together to enhance an already excellent safety record, upgrade and enhance our nation’s natural gas infrastructure to continue to improve safety while reducing emissions, expand the use of natural gas in transportation, and invest in efficient technologies that utilize our nation’s abundance of natural gas effectively.

NW Natural is headquartered in Portland, Ore. and provides natural gas service to approximately 689,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Kantor also emphasized the importance of natural gas working alongside – not competing against – other forms of renewable energy.

“Natural gas can be a partner with other clean energy sources, including renewables,” said Kantor. “We need to get away from the notion that they are somehow at odds. That narrative is over, as far as I’m concerned.”

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Incoming AGA Chairman Gregg Kantor and AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy discuss the vision for natural gas in 2014.

After the presentation, Kantor and AGA President & CEO Dave McCurdy took questions from reporters of top energy trade, policy and environmental publications, including Environment & Energy Publishing, Platts, SNL News, Politico, CQ Roll Call and The Hill.

AGA will post a short video interview with Gregg Kantor on AGA’s YouTube page next week. Stay tuned!

 

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