Governor Parson Visits Fulton to Obtain Natural Gas Loan

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Missouri Governor Mike Parson thanked Fulton City officials for their urgent efforts to find a way out of their predicament.

Parson visited Fulton’s mayor’s office on Tuesday to present Mayor Lowe Cannell and the city with a check for a $ 3.3 million loan to ease the cost of record natural gas prices in February during an unusually cold period.

Fulton became the first city to receive funding under the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Division’s Utilities Loan Program. The program began accepting applications on June 2, Fulton was one of the first to apply, and then learned on June 8 that she had been granted a loan.

The program was created after Parson signed legislation on May 13 to provide $ 50 million in five-year interest-free emergency loans.

“It seems like so many times that things happen, there aren’t many happy times because of what we went through (in February),” Parson said. “Sometimes there is a light at the end of the tunnel when you are really going through some of these crises that we face.

“I am so proud of Missouri and its people. The citizens of this state always come to the fore and find a way to find solutions. I think that’s what we did with this program. “

Fulton, which at one point had $ 5 million in gas reserves, budgeted $ 2.65 million for 2021 to cover wholesale natural gas costs throughout the year. However, during a five-day cold snap in February, the city was forced to pay $ 3.4 million in expenses.

“This was the most disastrous financial event in Fulton’s history, so this is a big deal,” Cannell said on Tuesday. “We know it will take years to replenish funds that were spent that weekend, but today’s action by the State of Missouri and Governor Parson on an interest-free loan will help ensure stability in Fulton for years to come. to come.

“It is extremely important for us to return these funds. It is good to know that when municipalities are facing a crisis, that Missouri does not turn its back on them, the great Missouri State is supporting us. We really appreciate it. “

The city usually pays for gas between $ 3 and $ 3.50 per decatherm, but prices climbed to $ 224.80 per decatherm in February. This shocking growth was the result of the freezing of natural gas wells and other critical infrastructure, which reduced the amount of natural gas available to utilities.

“It’s like going to a gas station one day and buying gas for $ 2.45 (a gallon) and then, a couple of days later, stopping and refueling your tank for $ 224 a gallon,” said Darrell Dunlap, the city’s chief of public utilities. farms. “The city’s gas system is accountable to the people of Fulton.

“During this cold event, citizens became more active. They actually turned off their thermostats. The mayor posted a request on his Facebook page and challenged people, and people did it. We really appreciate this help because we needed It. “

Parson stressed that ultimately the lending program should prioritize utility consumers.

“I was adamant about this – I want to make sure it gets through to consumers,” Parson said. “These are the ones who suffered the most, the ones who had to pay the bills. We had a lot of resources for low-income strata of the population, a lot of community support, we could do a lot for them.

“But who always remains on the sidelines of these programs is the middle class, working people. We must take care of them and do our best to help them get through this. “

Officials from DNR and its Energy Division also attended Tuesday’s ceremony.

“I think (the loan program) is one of the best work done by the department this year and the speed with which our team saw the need,” said DNR Acting Director Dru Buntin. “They were able to react and get off the ground, realizing how important it is for communities like Fulton to do it in a timely manner.

“We have worked hard to ensure the success of the program, and we are committed to good management of Missouri taxpayer money.”

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