From the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District
The natural gas industry serves more than 72 million customers nationwide – including 19,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Orange and Lake counties served by the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District (LANGD). The impact of decisions made about natural gas at the national level are likely to be felt close to home by you or someone you know.
The nonprofit American Public Gas Association (APGA) represents more than 700 municipal and community-owned natural gas utilities in 37 states, and advocates on their behalf to Congress during annual trips to Washington, D.C. Samuel Davis Jr., General Manager and CEO of LANGD and an APGA board member for more than 25 years, joined the APGA delegation on its most recent visit, May 7-10.
Davis met with representatives from two of the three districts served by LANGD (Chris Wilcox, legislative director and counsel for Rep. Val Demings, and Melissa Robel, legislative analyst for Rep. Dennis Ross) to discuss the following issues that impact our region:
- Direct Use of Natural Gas: A lifecycle analysis proves that direct use of natural gas is more efficient than the burning of natural gas to generate electricity; indeed, three times more energy reaches the consumer. Therefore, direct use should be actively promoted as part of the solution for improving U.S. energy efficiency and encouraging a cleaner environment.
- Low-Income Consumer Assistance: Funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) are provided by the federal government and administered by each state. Funding has steadily declined since 2009 and the President’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget blueprint proposes to eliminate it altogether. Defunding LIHEAP would be a devastating blow to the Florida families who last year received more than $63 million in assistance. Davis recommended that LIHEAP should be funded to the full authorization level of $5.1 billion, but not less than the last year’s funded amount of 3.39 billion. This funding enables families to pay for necessities, such as health care and child care, because their basic energy needs are covered.
- Tax-Exempt Financing: Tax-exempt bonds are the primary financing tool used by more than 50,000 state and local governments to satisfy infrastructure needs. Proposals to alter or replace tax exemptions would severely impact the natural gas industry, hindering economic growth, job growth and the prepayment of natural gas purchases. Davis shared LANGD’s position that related legislation should not be enacted, as negative effects would ultimately be passed to consumers in the form of higher rates and less reliable service.
- Natural Gas Act Reform: The Natural Gas Act currently allows pipelines to charge unjust rates without fear of financial penalty and encourages them to prolong customer complaint investigations. New legislation was suggested to protect customers against overcharging and, if a pipeline is found guilty, to mandate reimbursement of overcharges dating back to filing of the customer complaint.