Lower natural gas prices benefit local governments

Source: Daily Advocate

The services provided by local governments are very important to our communities and that is why we have spent considerable time in the legislature to reduce their costs of operations and provide them new ways to save tax dollars. In particular, the recent growth in Ohio’s gas industry has lowered natural gas prices for all Ohioans including the community and township halls in western Ohio.

The positive effects of natural gas on households around the state and in western Ohio are undeniable. Both Vectren and Dominion East Ohio Gas report that their natural gas customers have witnessed a 35 percent decrease in their gas bills since the winter of 2009.

By increasing access to natural gas we are favoring a cleaner form of energy in Ohio. This is because households and local governments that use natural gas end up producing 37 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than homes that only use electricity to power their homes.

In western Ohio, you can really see how much people are saving if they are fortunate to have their homes and local government buildings connected to natural gas. Communities in Shelby and Darke Counties use Vectren as their natural gas supplier, while the communities in Mercer County primarily use Dominion East Ohio Gas. Auglaize County communities use either Vectren or Dominion East Ohio, depending on the location. Both the communities connected to natural gas are realizing real costs savings.

An increase in the availability of natural gas saves local governments money. When natural gas is readily available the price to power our homes is less. The same thing rings true for local governments needing to operate their governmental facilities.

In addition, lower energy prices attracts new business and encourages business growth in our communities. As a result the local economies are improving and sales tax and other tax receipts for local governments are on an upward trend.

Governor Kasich and the Republican legislature worked to welcome the oil and gas industry in Ohio because of the benefits the state is seeing for producing our own energy. One of those benefits of producing our own energy will help those who utilize natural gas, residents, businesses, and local governments, to keep their energy bills low. As more companies expand their energy operations in eastern Ohio, job opportunities and the tax base will grow, benefiting local government revenue.

Local governments have been a partner in Ohio’s path to an improved economy and their continued efforts to reduce costs for tax payers is appreciated. In Columbus, I have been encouraging colleagues to keep local governments in consideration when we determine public policy. By passing legislation that promotes safe exploration for the oil and gas below eastern Ohio, all Ohioans including local governments are benefitting. I will continue talking to my colleagues about ways to help local governments in the future.