Energy Crisis Hits New Hampshire Hard Ahead of Midterm Elections

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D., N.H.) / Getty Images
October 6, 2022

With energy prices at record highs, the number of New Hampshirites applying for heating assistance as the weather cools has spiked from last year, a development that could spell trouble in the midterm elections for Democrats in the swing state.

Southern New Hampshire Services, a nonprofit in the state that offers rental and home-heating assistance, has already received 6,000 applications from residents who need help paying their energy bills, up 1,500 from last year, local ABC affiliate WMUR reported.

"Prices are definitely increasing. We can see that across the board with all fuel levels," Ryan Clouthier, deputy director of the nonprofit, told WMUR. "People should be expecting an increase in their bill. It's going to happen."

Southern New Hampshire Services says it expects more than 15,000 applications for heating assistance this season. That Granite Staters are struggling under rising fuel costs is bad news for vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Maggie Hassan, who is acutely aware of how energy costs are a liability for her campaign.

Hassan has publicly criticized President Joe Biden's energy policies, distancing herself from the administration's green agenda that many blame for record prices.

The senator, who herself has a history of pushing green policies like gas taxes, in June called it "frustrating" that Biden has not repealed the federal gas tax. In a campaign ad, Hassan told voters she's pushing the president "to release more of our oil reserves." Hassan in March also called for oil companies to boost production, saying, "We’ve got to stand up to Big Oil and really tell them that they need to start increasing production."

The threat of burdensome energy prices in New Hampshire is serious enough that last month the state enacted an emergency energy assistance plan that permits residents to apply for hundreds of dollars in fuel and electricity assistance.

Skyrocketing energy costs have Democrats across the country in a panic. As gas prices surged this week in states that will determine control of Congress in the midterm elections, the Biden administration, hoping to protect the Democratic Party's electoral prospects, reportedly threatened oil companies with unprecedented executive action if they don't bring prices down.

Biden, who in his 2020 campaign said there would be "no ability for the oil industry to continue to drill, period," has also changed his tune on oil production. The Biden administration on Wednesday said the United States needs to become less reliant on foreign oil and touted the administration's recent sales of oil leasing rights as proof of its commitment to that goal.