WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has initiated a public awareness campaign to educate businesses, homeowners, and consumers on ways they can cut energy bills. With lower-than-normal natural gas stocks accompanied by higher demand, the department kicked off its “Smart Energy Campaign.”

“The demand for natural gas is growing faster than producers can get it out of the ground and ship it to consumers,” said Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham. “If we have an unusually hot summer, there’s a chance that prices could increase dramatically because of tight natural gas supplies.”

The campaign began with Abraham unveiling the department’s new Energysavers.gov Web site, a series of public service announcements, and the announcement that the department will be holding regional energy summits this year.

Abraham also made brief stops in Long Island City, N.Y.; Philadelphia; Columbus, Ohio; and Milwaukee to spread his energy message.

“America’s natural gas shortage effects everyone, from senior citizens living on fixed incomes, to small business owners trying to keep the lights on,” Abraham said. “While we work to increase our production and storage capacities for natural gas, we must also focus on using our natural gas resources wisely and to our own best benefit.”

The growing summer demand for natural gas, combined with heavy gas usage during this past winter’s unusually cold temperatures for much of the nation, has left storage levels well below normal for this time of year, according to the department’s Energy Information Administration.

As part of the Smart Energy Campaign, the Energysavers.gov Web site will educate consumers on specific steps they can take to conserve energy. Utility groups will begin a bill-stuffing campaign to educate their customers on smart energy practices. DOE will also send a letter to all 50 governors with recommended actions that states can take to improve the natural gas situation, including infrastructure improvements and joining the Smart Energy Campaign.

DOE will contact news outlets around the country encouraging them to publicize the campaign and the Energysavers.gov Web site. Public service announcements, for broadcast in English and Spanish, will also be available on the Web site for use by radio stations.

Regional summits on energy use will begin in Atlanta, with other cities to be announced later this summer.

Publication date: 07/21/2003