For Immediate Release
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Conectiv Increases 2005 Contribution To Community Fuel Fund to$100K
WILMINGTON, DE - Natural gas prices will remain high and more volatile until new sources of supply are tapped, a national gas economist told Conectiv Power Delivery officials Tuesday at a briefing on rising natural gas prices.
"We can't drill for gas off the East Coast. We can't drill for gas off the West Coast. There are resources here, but they're locked up," said Paul Wilkinson, vice president of policy analysis for the American Gas Association. The association is a lobbyist group for local energy utility companies that deliver natural gas to homes, businesses and industries throughout the United States.
Wilkinson made his presentation at a Media Briefing on Rising Natural Gas Prices, hosted by Conectiv Power Delivery at its downtown Wilmington office.
In response to sharp increases in natural gas prices, Conectiv officials said the local gas utility will increase its contribution to the Salvation Army's Good Neighbor Energy Fund from $70,000 to $100,000 for the 2005 winter heating season. The fund assists low-income households with their energy costs.
"Conectiv recognizes that not everyone can afford to pay more to stay warm this winter," said Charles Dickerson, who oversees Conectiv's Gas Delivery division. "Conectiv hopes more people will get the assistance they need this winter by increasing its contribution to the Salvation Army's energy assistance program."
The money will go to help people like Pauline Rainey-Williams, a Wilmington resident who recently had to lean on the Good Neighbor Energy Fund to pay her heating bill. Williams is disabled and temporarily out of work. Last month she struggled to pay her $300-plus heating bill. She contacted the Salvation Army and, after completing some paperwork, her bill was paid through the Good Neighbor Energy Fund.
"I didn't know how I was going to pay that bill. I'm so thankful there is help out there," Williams said.
Approximately 140,000 Delaware residents and businesses use natural gas and, therefore, have felt the economic pinch from the rising cost of that fuel over the past year. Conectiv has approximately 117,000 natural gas customers in New Castle County while Chesapeake Gas has approximately 23,000 natural gas customers in Kent and Sussex counties.
In recent months, both Conectiv and Chesapeake Gas have had to increase the rate their customers pay for natural gas by 15 percent to reflect the higher wholesale prices the companies are paying for natural gas. Those local price increases are in line with national figures, which cite bills for homeowners relying on natural gas as 15 percent higher than last year while heating oil customers are paying 37 percent more.
Natural gas rates are regulated and, in Delaware, are subject to approval by the Delaware Public Service Commission. Natural gas is the most popular home-heating fuel in the United States, with nearly 60 percent of households relying on it to heat their homes
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Conectiv Power Delivery, a subsidiary of Pepco Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: POM), provides safe, reliable and affordable regulated electric or natural gas delivery services to more than one million customers in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.