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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Jamie Long (DFL)

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Climate and Energy Committee hears legislation to help low-income Minnesotans and utilities weather impacts of natural gas price spike

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the House Climate and Energy Finance and Policy Committee heard legislation authored by Rep. Jamie Long (DFL – Minneapolis) that would mitigate the impact of the recent nationwide spike in natural gas prices. The bill provides assistance to low-income Minnesotans who used natural gas during the period when costs skyrocketed. It also provides loans for municipal utilities that were forced to pay unusually high prices for natural gas.  

“Many Minnesotans will soon face higher utility bills through no fault of their own,” said Rep. Long. “Families and small businesses that are already experiencing challenges due to COVID-19 could see their bills increase by hundreds of dollars because of the extraordinary spike in natural gas prices that occurred last month. We need to help utilities manage this crisis and mitigate the impact on Minnesotans, particularly the most vulnerable.” 

In February, demand for natural gas increased significantly due to a cold wave in the southern United States. As a result, the cost of natural gas skyrocketed. Costs climbed even higher when unwinterized infrastructure in Texas and other states froze, reducing the supply of natural gas. While Minnesota’s infrastructure held up well during this period despite subzero temperatures, most of the state’s utilities had to purchase a portion of their gas at a much higher price than anticipated. This cost will be passed on to consumers, which means Minnesotans may see their heating bills increase. Municipal utility customers could see an impact on their bills this month.  

More information is available on the committee’s webpage. Video of the hearing will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel