When It Comes to Energy Talking About The Stats Is Not Always Enough

Steve Kratz Steve Kratz

Understanding an audience is the key to any effective messaging strategy. Continuity in messaging is important, but ultimately, it’s the supporting facts that can make or break an entire effort – this is especially true for the energy industry.

Take for instance the following statements: Pennsylvania is now the second in the nation for natural gas production behind only Texas. In 2014, gross natural gas production exceeded four trillion cubic feet. In 2011, Pennsylvania became a net exporter of natural gas.

To energy insiders these statistics and achievements represent the rapid and impressive rise of Pennsylvania as a major player on the global energy stage. However, to the average Pennsylvanian, these facts do very little to sway their opinion about the energy industry in one way or the other.

While Pennsylvanians understand that these statistics are indeed impressive, the failure to equate how these facts and figures benefit their community and a consumer’s bottom line results in a messaging strategy that is coming up short. So let’s take a step forward.

Pennsylvania’s ascent to become the nation’s second largest producing state of natural gas has led to economic growth, new jobs and lower energy costs in the commonwealth.  

While everyone can agree that these are all good things for the state as whole, we still need to dive deeper to reach and move our audience. Now that the winter cold is finally upon us, let’s focus in on lower energy costs.

Approximately 189,000 Pennsylvania households use propane for home heating.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the average residential propane price for the Central Atlantic Region, which includes Pennsylvania, has dropped from  $2.87 per gallon in January 2015 to an average of $2.64 in January 2016  – a difference of -$0.23.1  

For residential consumers, that’s an estimated savings of $57.50 per 250 gallon fill and $115 per 500 gallon fill compared to last year’s cost for the same fills in January.

For large-scale commercial and industrial consumers, the savings will vary based on daily usage. For our purposes, let’s use an industrial consumer using approximately 100 gallons of propane per day. At today’s prices, that would be a savings of $8,395 for the year when compared to last year. Those are real tangible savings for consumers due almost entirely to the proliferation of shale gas development in the region.

And that’s just propane.

According to the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, natural gas prices are currently 38 percent lower than they were one year ago, and electric prices are dropping based on a reduction in wholesale prices thanks to lower gas prices.

These energy savings equal more money in residential consumers’ pockets, additional operating funds for commercial and industrial users, additional reach for organizations that provide natural gas and propane to low-income families as a heating source but cannot afford it, and the list of benefits goes on. 

This is one concrete example of how Pennsylvanians are directly benefiting from the development of natural gas in the region – a benefit to communities and a positive impact on the average consumer’s bottom line.

Without a doubt energy development is having a transformational, positive impact on Pennsylvania, but it’s up to energy companies to go beyond the statistics and achievements that are important to the industry and instead focus on the tangible and real benefits that are important to all Pennsylvanians.

Steve Kratz Steve Kratz

Steve Kratz is a Director at Bravo Group and handles the interests of the company's energy practice clients, applying his knowledge of state economics to coordinate their community and business interests.

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