As winter comes for the global energy system, increased fossil fuel prices are stretching U.S. families’ finances to, and past, the breaking point. In Connecticut, the sharp increase in the number of people seeking heating bill assistance is “just unbelievable,” Joanne Balaschak, director of energy programs at New Opportunities, in Waterbury, told the Connecticut Post. “We’re seeing people that are working, sometimes two jobs, they can’t make it. It’s just tough. Everybody is so afraid because the price of oil has skyrocketed. Now they’re hearing that Eversource and [United Illuminating] will be increasing their rates. It’s a scary time,” she added. New York expects electricity prices to jump as much as 30% due to higher methane gas prices, driven up in part by LNG exports.
The Austin, Texas, utilities department is encouraging people and businesses to pay other customers’ bills as residents struggle to pay their electricity bills. Whether the lights will stay on there, however, is another matter. ERCOT, the Texas grid operator, admitted Tuesday it would not be able to keep the state’s lights on if demand reached the level of 2021’s so-called “Winter Storm Uri,” or if methane gas and coal plants fail, as they did in 2021 when the failure of the state’s gas system led to blackouts and contributed to the deaths of about 700 people, a disproportionate toll borne by low-income Texans, people of color, and people with disabilities. (CT: Connecticut Post; NY: Bloomberg $, Utility Dive; Austin: Bloomberg $; ERCOT: Houston Chronicle)