Global Natural Gas, Oil Industry Responding to ‘Unprecedented’ Coronavirus Crisis with Donations, Relief Efforts

By Leticia Gonzales – Natural Gas Intelligence

As natural gas and oil markets have spiraled into unprecedented territory in part on uncertainty over the coronavirus pandemic, a slew of energy companies has stepped up as stewards in many communities across the Lower 48 and abroad.

In addition to utilities nationwide that have announced plans to halt disconnects and waive fees for customers, Duke Energy is taking extra care of its employees. The company contributed $100,000 to its Relief4Employees program, which gives one-time grants to employees experiencing financial hardship. Duke also is offering five additional personal days for employees whose dependent care is disrupted. Some employees also may be eligible for a $1,500 stipend to assist with unplanned expenses like emergency childcare.

“This is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response,” said Duke CEO Lynn Good.

Charlotte, NC-based Duke also is donating $1.3 million to health and human services, as well as hunger relief efforts in the seven states it serves. For example, $100,000 of Duke’s overall donation is benefitting South Carolina’s Harvest Hope Food Bank, which serves 20 counties in the Upstate, Midlands and Pee Dee regions. The state’s largest food bank has been distributing food in a curbside-pickup method and recently served more than 2,000 people in two days. It typically serves about 600 in that time.

Detroit-based DTE Energy has deployed enhanced information technology services to make working from home a more productive experience. The company also is providing health and safety guidance, personal protective equipment and support for employees who are required to work on-site or in the field. In addition, because of the growing need for food and shelter, the DTE Foundation is increasing support to its community and faith-based partners.

Calgary-based TC Energy Corp., whose gas pipeline systems run from Canada to Mexico, has provided $25 to each employee to donate to a local community cause of their choice and is matching all personal donations at 200%. The Canadian firm has also virtually mobilized the 180-plus members of its community action team spread across its system footprint, seeking out opportunities to support food security initiatives in local communities.

National Grid, which serves more than 20 million people in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island, is directing $500,000 to support customers affected by the health impacts, financial hardships and disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. A portion of the funds are to be dedicated directly to National Grid’s customers experiencing financial hardship. The company also plans to work with community-based organizations and funds, including the Boston Resiliency Fund, Island Harvest and The Rhode Island Good Neighbor Energy Fund.

National Grid also is offering customers the expertise of its Consumer Advocates, who provide crisis intervention support and work closely with county social services and community assistance organizations.

“We will continue to closely monitor our customers’ needs during the pandemic and find new ways to assist where we can,” said interim U.S. President Badar Khan.

Supporting Communities

Southern Company Gas has announced a $2.5 million investment to support relief work in California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia through organizations such as Meals on Wheels, the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army and United Way. A major part of the effort is to take place in Georgia, where it is headquartered and two subsidiaries are located.

The company’s local distribution business, Atlanta Gas Light, is working with the Public Service Commission and Georgia Watch, a state consumer advocacy organization, to allocate $1 million for supplemental low-income energy assistance, with a specific focus on aiding the elderly. In addition, the Southern Company Gas Foundation has launched a website to highlight Covid-19 support resources and provide information on how to give back to local communities.

“Whether it’s supporting health care providers and first responders or agencies focused on helping businesses and their employees get back on their feet, we are committed to providing resources where they are needed most,” Southern Company Gas CEO Kim Greene said.

NextEra Energy Inc., through its family of companies, has committed $1.5 million in coronavirus emergency assistance. The funds, provided by the NextEra Energy Foundation and Gulf Power Foundation, are to be distributed to partner organizations working on the frontlines of the Covid-19 crisis to provide critical support to the most vulnerable members of its communities. The NextEra Energy family of companies operates in 45 states and includes Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL), FPL Home, Gulf Power Co. and NextEra Energy Resources.

FPL, the largest electric utility in Florida, previously donated $100,000 to the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties.

Baltimore-based Constellation, in partnership with sister company Baltimore Gas & Electric Co., plans to contribute to the $1.15 million that parent Exelon Corp. is pledging in support of relief organizations and efforts across the United States. Of the total, $175,000 would go toward supporting communities in Maryland.

“Supporting the communities where we live and work is ingrained in who we are at Constellation. It’s essential that we stand behind our commitment to the people in those communities now, when they need it more than ever,” said Constellation CEO Jim McHugh.

Constellation also plans to donate $50,000 to contribute to United Way 211, which provides support and resources to people in need to cover basic expenses, such as rent or mortgage, food, utility bills and healthcare.

The Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation is committing $1 million to aid coronavirus relief efforts across the United States, including a $250,000 donation to the American Red Cross. The remaining $750,000 would address local needs.

“The health and well-being of customers and employees is Dominion Energy’s top priority. Our contributions to these organizations will help provide the means to lessen the impact of this outbreak,” said CEO Thomas F. Farrell.

Corporate Spirit

No stranger to generosity, especially in the times of crisis, the Sempra Energy Foundation plans to donate up to $500,000 to help small to medium-sized nonprofits in Texas. The grants for Texas nonprofits are part of a larger $1.75 million Nonprofit Hardship Fund available to charities in the areas of the United States where Sempra and its subsidiaries operate, including California, Louisiana and Texas.

Some of the funds could be used to support the increased volume of services being provided to clients, such as meals for homebound seniors; unexpected expenses associated with fulfilling those services; and/or support to sustain operations and services to populations impacted by Covid-19 amid pandemic-related cancellation of major fundraisers.

“After Hurricane Harvey’s impact, Sempra showed its great corporate spirit and rallied around our community in a substantial way. It has been proactive in working with us to address community needs ever since,” said Southeast Texas Food Bank CEO Dan Maher. “So, while it is not surprising that Sempra would wish to be a partner as we respond to the unique challenges of the coronavirus, it is truly impressive that at a moment when philanthropy is expected to dip because of the national scope of this crisis, Sempra has risen up to make a huge investment in the health and well-being of children in Southeast Texas.”

Management at Sempra subsidiary Cameron LNG is re-evaluating the annual community partnership giving schedule and accelerating some of the grants previously scheduled for later in the year to help local organizations respond to their clients now.

“We also plan to increase our giving amounts to help with the local response to those most impacted,” said Cameron spokeswoman Anya McInnis. “We are still assessing the needs and determining where our dollars can help do the most good.”

Meanwhile, liquefied natural gas (LNG) exporter Freeport LNG has donated $20,000 each to the Brazosport Cares Food Pantry and the Brazoria County Dream Center, both on the Texas coast. The organizations provide food and basic life needs to individuals and families.

On the frontlines

Pacific Gas & Electric Corp. (PG&E) is donating 480,000 N95 masks and 470,000 surgical masks to the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services for distribution to state hospitals and first responders. PG&E also is contributing $1 million to nonprofits focused on supporting individuals and families facing food insecurity, as well as small businesses.

“As a company and as individuals, we recognize the need to support the medical community and all they’re doing to help safeguard the health and safety of our fellow Californians,” CEO Andy Vesey said.

Energy major Total SA, based in Paris, is supporting healthcare staff of French hospitals mobilized in the fight against the Covid-19 virus by supplying them with fuel for their travel. In consultation with France’s health authorities, Total plans to provide hospitals with gasoline vouchers worth up to 50 million Euro (US $53.76 million) for use at its stations.

In addition, the Total Foundation plans to contribute 5 million Euro to the Pasteur Institute, a French nonprofit foundation dedicated to the study of biology, micro-organisms, diseases and vaccines, and to hospital and health associations involved in the fight against Covid-19.

“With its nationwide network, Total is working alongside those who are fighting the epidemic everywhere. Which is why the Group has decided to make this practical gesture of support for our hospital staff, who are working to ensure the health of patients,” said CEO Patrick Pouyanné.

Copyright 2020 © Natural Gas Intelligence

Source: NGI