December 6, 2022

Texans fare slightly better than most Americans struggling to pay energy bills

Prior to prices at the pump hitting record levels, roughly one quarter of Americans were already struggling to pay rising energy costs, according to an analysis published by HelpAdvisor.

Texans fared slightly better than the national average according to the analysis, with 15.1%, or 3.2 million people, unable to pay their energy bill at least once in the last year.

Another 14.5% kept their home or apartment at an unsafe or unhealthy temperature to lower their energy bill, compared to the national average of 16%, the report found.

However, with inflation continuing to rise, forcing consumers to pay more for less, 25.5% of Texans went without purchasing food or medicine in order to pay their energy bill, or 5.5 million people, the analysis found. That’s slightly more than the national average.

“The cost of home energy has many Texans sacrificing their health and wellness each month in order to afford their bill,” the study’s author, Christian Worstell, told The Center Square. “It’s scary to think that many of these respondents have children that are going hungry and without necessary medication each month because of the price of home energy.”

The findings come at a time when the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecast that U.S. households would spend more money on heating costs and consume more energy to keep their homes warm. In its Winter Fuels Outlook, EIA forecast that U.S. households would spend 54% more for propane, 43% more for heating oil, 30% more for natural gas, and 6% more for electric heating.

Coupled with the Russian-Ukraine conflict and Biden energy policies restricting domestic production of crude oil while demand continues to rise, costs are skyrocketing.

Gov. Greg Abbott has said that if President Joe Biden removed restrictions on American companies to produce more oil and gas that the U.S. would be energy independent and not reliant on foreign oil and gas.

Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production primarily because the industry operates on privately owned land. Production on federal land in other states has been hamstrung by a range of Biden administration policies for over a year, curtailing production and investment in new development.

Texas Independent Producers & Royalty Owners Association President Ed Longanecker said that the Biden administration “should encourage more domestic oil and natural gas production, including restarting leasing on federal lands and positioning U.S. liquefied natural gas (LNG).” He also recommends that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission change its policy guidance to remove impediments for developing U.S. energy infrastructure and expedite pending applications to expand operating capacity at three already approved LNG export facilities.

He’s also called on the White House to “convene an emergency council of U.S. operators to discuss and execute strategies to increase domestic production to support the efforts of our allies and trade partners to diversify their supply of oil and natural gas to prevent disruptions in global energy supplies.”

Instead of heading Longanecker’s call, the Biden administration continues to further U.S. dependence on foreign oil. Inflation continues to worsen, as do gas prices. As of March 17, the average price for a regular gallon of gasoline was $4.289. Texas’ average remains among the lowest at $3.958, but is still significantly higher than a year ago.

As gas prices continue to climb, so are other costs, including energy bills.

HelpAdvisor has listed available resources to help those struggling to pay their energy bills. It also notes, “Many energy companies offer their own assistance programs to customers, so be sure to contact your provider for information about any programs they may offer.”

Federally funded programs available include those offered through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the U.S. Department of the Treasury, local Housing and Urban Development offices, and the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

The federally funded Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is managed by each state and can also offer assistance with home energy costs and other expenses.

The Dollar Energy Fund, a non-profit organization, and the Consumers Affordable Resource for Energy, a 24-month affordable payment plan, also offer assistance.

Other resources are available through state, county and community organizations by zip code.

This article was originally posted on Texans fare slightly better than most Americans struggling to pay energy bills

Sydney Boles