The cold winter months are just around the corner, and state leaders and Connecticut homeowners alike are already preparing for home heating costs.
In a letter that six New England Governors sent to the U.S. Department of Energy, they write that global liquified natural gas prices have gone up by 300 percent. Northeast states rely on LNG for home heating, so the governors are raising concerns about inventory and costs going into winter.
“I got a house, got to keep it warm or the pipes will burst. I got to work a little bit harder,” Lewis Colon, a Middletown homeowner, said.
Colon is already preparing to tackle a hefty home heating bill this winter.
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“Another $400 or $500 bucks,” he said. “I’d rather have the money, to save the money to do something else with it. You know, not pay gas.
In New England, diesel inventories are 63 percent below the five-year average, according to the correspondence between the Department of Energy and the New England governors, including Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. The governors are asking for assistance since the Northeast is more heavily dependent on heating oil than other states to keep homes warm.
“The geopolitical events that are occurring right now are having a direct impact on Main Street, Connecticut,” said Chris Herb, President of the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association.
With the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia, experts say high fuel prices are here to stay.
“For the foreseeable half a year to 12 months, I will say the oil price is still going to be relatively high, could go up and is projected to go up,” said Dequan Xiao, Associate Professor in Chemistry at the University of New Haven.
Advocates at the State Capitol Monday, worried the low inventory and rising home heating costs could particularly impact low-income families.
“Sometimes people get into scary situations where they turn on their stove for heat, for example, or they're using candles at night to do their homework with their kids. These are fire hazards. They're dangerous,” said Leticia Colon de Mejias, Advocacy and Outreach Founder & Chair, Efficiency For All Connecticut.
United Way of Connecticut’s 211 Health and Human Services Contact Center also reports an uptick in calls for heating assistance since the pandemic started in 2020.
“In 2020, we got about 131,000 calls related to utility assistance,” said Tanya Barrett, Senior Vice President for the 211 Health and Human Services Contact Center.
She said in pre-pandemic years, the line received roughly 50,000 calls for heating assistance.
“We're still experiencing kind of double the amount of requests,” Barrett said.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal is now seeking emergency federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
Herb says the Connecticut Energy Marketers Association supports efforts to consider heating needs in the state before the heart of winter.
“These conversations in August are really important to have so that we don't have a crisis in December or January,” Herb said. “We think that there are some tools that are available to them that could help. Waiving the Jones Act, which allows domestic energy to flow to New England more freely, would be a big help.”
In the letter to the Department of Energy, the governors also ask the Biden administration to waive the Jones Act so that fuel supplies can be shipped directly to New England.
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm writes that is being considered.
The governors will meet with Secretary Granholm after Labor Day.