Category Archives: winter heating

Lisa O'Leary Advocates Urge Congress to Increase LIHEAP Funding

Nearly 200 advocates from across the United States converged on Capitol Hill last week to support responsible funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC) sponsored LIHEAP Action Day 2015 along with member companies of the American Gas Association (AGA) and the Edison Electric Institute. The annual day-long event is aimed at building awareness for LIHEAP, a federal block grant program providing financial assistance to low and fixed-income individuals for fuel and utility bills, as well as low-cost weatherization and energy-related home repairs.

Representatives from Entergy and Atmos Energy met with Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) staff to discuss LIHEAP funding. Photo Credit: Entergy

Representatives from Entergy and Atmos Energy met with Sen. Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) staff to discuss LIHEAP funding. Photo Credit: Entergy

According to NEAUC, nearly 300 meetings took place between LIHEAP advocates and members of Congress and their staff, to discuss the need for at least $4.7 billion in LIHEAP funding for FY2016. Advocates in D.C. and throughout the country also took to social media to share important messages about LIHEAP by using #LIHEAPAction.

After many years of underfunding LIHEAP, Congress funded the program at $5.1 billion in FY2009 and FY2010. Since then, funding has declined by almost $1.7 billion and recipients have seen their assistance grants reduced by nearly $95, impacting the program’s effectiveness.  The average grant was estimated to cover less than half of the average home heating costs for a household this winter, meaning that many low-income families and seniors had fewer resources available to meet other basic needs.

This winter was especially hard-hitting in the northeast and southeast with record-breaking snowfall and cold temperatures, serving as a stark reminder of why the LIHEAP program is so critical. Here are just a few other reasons:

  • More than 35 million U.S. households meet LIHEAP’s federal eligibility criteria, yet only 6.8 million households were helped in 2014.
  • States and their charitable partners can serve households earning up to 150 percent of Federal poverty guidelines or 60 percent of median income. For a three-person family in the U.S., that’s less than $29,685, yet most LIHEAP households earn less than that amount.
  • Even with LIHEAP funding at $5.1 billion, the amount was only enough to assist 1 in 5 eligible Americans.
Rep. Peter Welch was presented with this year’s NEUAC Extra Mile award. Photo Credit: http://welch.house.gov/

Rep. Peter Welch was presented with this year’s NEUAC Extra Mile award. Photo Credit: http://welch.house.gov/

LIHEAP Action Day concluded with a Congressional reception and the presentation of the NEUAC Extra Mile award given to Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT), recognizing him for his longtime support of the program. In a letter to the House Appropriations Committee penned by Rep. Welch and Rep. Peter King (R-NY), more than 145 lawmakers stressed the critical importance of full funding of LIHEAP.

AGA had to opportunity to interview several advocates in attendance of the LIEAHP Action Day Breakfast. Stay tuned for links to those video interviews next week.

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Richard Meyer Natural Gas Market Indicators: Feb. 26, 2015

The one-two-three combination punches of cold weather to the eastern half of the United States have not been enough to pull natural gas commodity prices above $3 per MMBtu. Amid low prices the U.S. is on track to break the all-time record for February natural gas demand, suprassing the record previously set in 2014.

As demand surges, strong dry gas production continues apace as well. Flowing more than 11 percent higher than February 2014, production volumes have helped move storage volumes into a surplus relative to last year. How long this price environment will last remains to be seen. Supplies are now in a stronger place than last year or any time in recent history – which, of course, has contributed to the lower natural gas price environment.

Volumes to power generation and industrial demand are both running above last year, as have volumes to residential and commercial customers. The question remains how much more demand can the market absorb. If production continues to outpace demand growth, how long will the market continue to grow production at low prices? This year is shaping up to be another interesting one indeed.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

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Chris McGill Natural Gas Market Indicators: Feb. 13, 2015

The push toward natural gas power generation continues. New data from FERC shows natural gas comprised nearly half the new installed electric capacity additions in 2014 – wind plus solar accounted for the other half.

For the first six weeks of 2015, natural gas volumes serving power generation are up approximately 0.8 Bcf per day compared to this time last year, remembering that January 2014 was an all-time record winter month for gas to power gen. For the nation as a whole, heating degree days have been nearly five percent fewer than normal (warmer than normal) and thus heating load is down from the previous year by about 7.2 Bcf per day.

Overall U.S. demand is down about 6.7 Bcf per day. That means it is possible that storage inventories will be higher than last year as net injections begin in the spring, leaving more natural gas available to meet summer cooling loads. This comes when natural gas prices are low compared to recent history and generators turn to gas for its pricing and environmental attributes. One thing builds on another as the market progresses in 2015.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

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Richard Meyer Natural Gas Market Indicators: Jan. 30, 2015

The idea of structural versus price-induced demand growth is playing itself out in the power generation market for natural gas this winter. Natural gas power burn has consistently pointed to increased volumes to start the first quarter of 2015 compared to 2014, at least in part due to lower natural gas acquisition prices, and as a result power demand has averaged 22.9 Bcf per day, 1.2 Bcf per day more than last January.

One cannot help but wonder with overt and subtle shifts in the power generation fleet for economic and environmental reasons across the country how much of any of these demand increases are being structurally built into normal gas demand.

Visit this link to download the full Natural Gas Market Indicators report. Topics covered in this week’s report include: Reported Prices, Weather, Working Gas in Underground Storage, Natural Gas Production, Shale Gas, Rig Counts, Pipeline Imports and Exports, and LNG Markets.

Please direct questions and comments to Chris McGill at cmcgill@aga.org or Richard Meyer at rmeyer@aga.org.

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