Final Touches are Being Made to the Annual Energy Conference

On June 9-10, we will proudly present the 13th Annual Energy Conference at Skamania Lodge. As always, we have a terrific group of sponsors and speakers lined up, and look forward to continuing to discuss the current events and the future of energy in the Northwest. 

We are pleased to confirm our Keynote Speakers as:

John Horvick, Vice President & Political Director, DHM Research

Pat Reiten, President and CEO, PacifiCorp Transmission

We are have put together a great agenda with returning top rated speakers Grant Forsyth Ph.D., Avista, with the Regional Economic Outlook and Josh McCall, BP, with Natural Gas Fundamentals. We will hear from Tom Karier, NWPCC, on the Insights from the 7th Power Plan, Brad Christensen, Noble Americas Energy Solutions, Best Practices in Energy Commodity Risk Management, Updates on Methanol and LNG Projects, with Clay Riding, NW Innovation Works and Chuck Deister, Pioneer Group LLC.

Where’s carbon policy headed? We will hear about Oregon’s Carbon Policy Direction from Sen. Lee Beyer, Oregon, and Washington’s Carbon Policy Direction from State Rep. Jeff Morris, Washington (invited). Jeff Burks, Energy Strategies, will discuss the Potential Impacts of Washington’s Carbon Rule. Van Ness Feldman’s Emily Pitlick Mallen, Molly Lawrence, and Mona Tandon will discuss the Challenges in Developing Major Project Developments.

In addition to providing a lineup of energy leaders from around the region, we also provide attendees with the opportunity to get to know each other better, while taking part in one of our fun networking activities. For attendees who opt to sign up for our networking activities, you can participate in one of four options for your activity:

  • An 18-hole golf scramble at the challenging Skamania Lodge Golf Course.
  • A guided hike through the Columbia River Gorge.
  • A tour through some of Hood River’s best breweries and distilleries.
  • An instructor-led painting fueled by liquid courage and lunch taught by Vine Gogh Painting.

To see our most current agenda, click here or head over to the events tab. As always, please feel free to call us at 503-344-6637 if you have any questions about the event, or to find out more about sponsorship opportunities!

Jeff Burks to Present on Economic Impacts of the Potential Washington Carbon Rule

We are excited to have Jeff Burks on hand to discuss the implementation of Washington’s Clean Air rule and the requirement for 35 or more covered firms to reduce GHG emissions. This not only has important economic implications for the covered firms but will potentially impact the cost of energy, economic output, and jobs of the entire Washington State economy. Using IMPLAN I-O model. Energy Strategies economists have constructed a 536 sector model of the Washington state economy to evaluate the economic impact of the Clean Air rule. Burks will be presenting the preliminary results of Energy Strategies’ economic impact analysis of the proposed rule. Register for the Annual Energy Conference to hear Burks presentation.

Annual Energy Conference 2016

On June 9-10, we will proudly present the 13th Annual Energy Conference at Skamania Lodge. As always, we have a terrific group of sponsors and speakers lined up, and look forward to continuing to discuss the current events and the future of energy in the Northwest.

In addition to providing a lineup of energy leaders from around the region, we also provide attendees with the opportunity to get to know each other better, while taking part in one of our fun networking activities.

For attendees who opt to sign up for our networking activities, you can participate in one of four options for your activity:

  • An 18-hole golf scramble at the challenging Skamania Lodge Golf Course.
  • A guided hike through the Columbia River Gorge.
  • A tour through some of Hood River’s best breweries and distilleries.
  • An instructor-led painting, with a glass of liquid courage and lunch led by Vine Gogh Painting.

As a reminder, there is a limited number of space left at the Skamania Lodge Hotel. To make a hotel reservation call the lodge 1-800-221-7117, let them know you are attending the Energy Conference and use the code 1XW44T. The rate is discounted rate is $149 for a Forest View Room, $169 for a Riverview Room, plus taxes and a $20 resort fee.

To see our most current agenda, click here or head over to the events tab. Please stay tuned as we continue to update our speaker list. As always, please feel free to call us at 503-344-6637 if you have any questions about the event, or to find out more about sponsorship opportunities!

 

2016 State and Provincial Fact Sheet

The NWGA state and provincial fact sheets are updated and ready for 2016.  We find the the Fact Sheets extremely useful as we are out and about.  We typically leave them behind to highlight the natural gas industry within the Pacific Northwest region. We hope you will make use of them as much as we do. They are available on our website for downloading and printing at http://www.nwga.org/fact-sheets/.

2015 Outlook Spotlight: Clean and Efficient- Benefits of Direct Use of Natural Gas

We’re highlighting some of the guest posts featured in our 2015 Outlook here on the blog. The following excerpt discusses the opportunity to reduce emissions via the direct use of natural gas. To access the full Outlook study please click here.

For many years, energy agencies have alerted Americans to the importance of energy efficiency.  A variety of tags and certifications, backed by financial incentives, encourage us to understand our equipment buying options.  We know that it makes sense to spend a little more on a product so that we can save money and energy throughout its useful life.

These efforts continue to reduce per capita energy use for both natural gas and electric customers. And the more energy we save, the lower our impact on the environment.

But focusing on product efficiency only reveals half the story. To get the whole picture, it’s important to look at what’s called the full fuel cycle. That means understanding how much energy is retained — or lost — from the energy’s source until its final use in your water heater, oven or home heating system.

And with the full fuel cycle in mind, direct use of natural gas comes out a winner in the energy efficiency race.

For instance, by the time you turn on your electric appliance, up to 62 of the energy value from the original fuel has been lost. So the full fuel cycle efficiency is about 38 percent.  The full fuel cycle efficiency of a natural gas appliance is about 92 percent — a substantial difference.

Here’s how it works.

Even with advances in renewable power, most electricity in the U.S. is generated by either coal or natural gas.

  • We lose about 5 percent of the energy benefits of those fuels during the transportation process — before they arrive at the power plant.
  • The major energy loss occurs during generation.  Burning a fuel to create electricity wastes about 62 percent of its energy. That lost energy turns into heat, rather than useful power.
  • Finally, we lose another 6 percent of the energy over the electric transmission lines.

So for every 100 MMBtu of fuel that leaves the mine or the well, only 32 MMBtu reaches our appliances.  The rest is lost.

These fuel choices have important environmental implications.  On average, the house fueled by natural gas is responsible for about 37 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable all-electric home.  Furthermore, the more fuel we waste, the more we need to produce and transport — processes that also affect the environment.

We are approaching a future when a combination of wind, solar, wave energy and usable storage will reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Until then, one of the most effective ways we have to save energy and reduce carbon emissions today is to use natural gas directly in our homes and businesses wherever gas is available.

Lower Gas Prices Mean Savings For Region’s Natural Gas Customers:

We’ve seen consistently affordable natural gas prices for a number of years now as unprecedented growth in the production of natural gas from shale has more than doubled available North American supply.

What does this mean for ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest? Lower bills!

Over the past year every NWGA member utility has adjusted rates downward as a reflection of continued falling prices. Whether it’s in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or BC the average Pacific Northwest natural gas ratepayer could save hundreds of dollars a year.

Natural gas utilities use a mechanism called a Purchased Gas Adjustment (PGA) to pass the savings from lower prices on to ratepayers, here’s how the Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission defines a PGA:

 A PGA is a regulatory tool used by the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) to adjust the price of natural gas to reflect the changing cost of gas in the wholesale market. The single largest cost of operating a gas company is purchasing gas to sell to customers.

 Companies buy gas from producers in Canada and the United States, and the price fluctuates over time. The PGA allows gas companies to periodically adjust their prices to reflect the increasing or decreasing cost of gas.

While the way natural gas rates are implemented can vary by state or province, here’s a video by FortisBC that identifies many of the key components that make up your natural gas bill:

Catch Up With Our September Webinar

We hosted the September edition of our monthly webinar series yesterday. Kevin Harris, Senior Production Cost Engineer for ColumbiaGrid, provided an overview of their recent study on coal retirements in our region. If you missed the presentation you can view a recording below, or download a .pdf version of Kevin’s PowerPoint by clicking here.

About the Presenter:

Kevin Harris has over 28 years of experiences of analyzing the wholesale power market. He has extensive background in modeling the US wholesale market (ISO/RTO): which includes generation fleet, load forecasting, commodity prices and transmission system. Before joining ColumbiaGrid, he spent 11 years at Reliant Energy (GenOn) a merchant generator in Houston, Texas.  During his tenure at GenOn, his work involved, project development, fuel budgeting, economic impact on merchant fleet due to changes in supply, transmission or market rules.

Since coming to ColumbiaGrid Kevin has been active in production cost modeling tasks at ColumbiaGrid and WECC.  Currently, he leads the Economic Planning Studies Team at ColumbiaGrid, is the chair of the Hydro modeling work groups at WECC, vice-chair of the Data Work Group, and represents ColumbiaGrid at the WECC Technical Advisory Subcommittee.

Kevin received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from California State University, Chico.

 

About ColumbiaGrid: 

ColumbiaGrid is a non-profit membership corporation formed in 2006 to improve the operational efficiency, reliability, and planned expansion of the Pacific Northwest transmission grid. The corporation itself does not own transmission, but its members and the parties to its agreements own and operate an extensive network of transmission facilities.

ColumbiaGrid has substantive responsibilities for transmission planning, reliability, and other development services. These tasks are defined and funded through a series of “Functional Agreements” with members and other participants. Development of these agreements is carried out in a public process with broad participation.

2015 Outlook Spotlight: Oil Price Volatility

We’re highlighting some of the guest posts featured in our 2015 Outlook here on the blog. The following excerpt discusses some of the factors driving oil price volatility this year and beyond. To access the full Outlook study please click here.

Oil Price Volatility

Currently, world oil supply is outpacing world demand for a number of reasons, many of which are well-known and include the significant U.S. production increases associated with hydraulic fracturing.

Oil supplies began to overtake demand sometime around Q1 of 2012 and have remained firmly above demand since late 2013, largely because of economic stagnation in Europe and economic slowing in China. Demand for oil is still increasing but not as fast as was once forecasted. In short, when demand does not keep up with growing supply, prices decline.

Supply has reached historic levels, in part, spurred by recent $100 oil prices and the use of hydraulic fracturing to tap oil resources that were previously uneconomical to recover. In the past, large oil producing countries would cut back on supplies to offset declines in demand, but the Organization of Petroleum Export Countries (OPEC) has been unwilling or unable to limit production by its members. Furthermore, much of the recent growth in supply is outside of OPEC’s control.

There are also a variety of geopolitical factors that some analysts believe are influencing the price of oil (e.g., some believe the Saudi’s are trying to drive smaller oil producing countries and U.S. shale producers with higher costs out of the market). This analysis will leave those matters aside except to agree that world events and concerns over the stability of some oil producing countries will always play a key role in the volatility of oil supplies and pricing.

Over the long-term, oil demand is likely to increase
as economic growth returns to more normal levels and economic activity picks up. As has been the case in recent years, the developing countries led by China and India will likely lead the way in driving oil demand. The developed countries, including the U.S., are not expected to experience much growth in overall levels of petroleum use.

Boom and bust in the oil industry is nothing new. In fact, since 2009, the oil markets have been fairly volatile. While it may not be possible to predict where prices will settle in the short-term, some analysts believe that the current levels could put a temporary halt on new production as producers find it difficult to justify going after new supplies with oil below $60 a barrel. There
is also the likelihood that today’s prices and reduced revenues will lead to consolidation in the oil industry, which could further drive down future production.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), oil markets may turn the corner sometime in late 2015, as that is when these agencies are predicting that oil demand and supply will cross back over.

Source: NGVAmerica, Oil Price Volatility, January 2015

What We’ve Been Reading This Month

Each month numerous natural gas related stories cross our desks, here are a few that piqued our interest:

  • In late July Colorado State University rolled out a study measuring methane emissions from the natural gas transportation and storage sector, part of a series being performed in partnership with the Environmental Defense Fund. The study found nationwide emissions from this sector to be 27% lower than EPA estimates. Don Santa, President of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, explains what that means for the industry going forward.

 

  • Dr. Michael Levi, a top energy thinker for the Council on Foreign Relations, authored an interesting long-read, “Fracking and the Climate Debate.” The article delves into the history of shale gas in the climate conversation: from partnerships between producers and the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign, to the role of natural gas in climate policy, and concluding with the potential for increased producer regulation.

 

Key Takeaways from the CSU Methane Emissions Study

Last week Colorado State University released the results of an in-depth study of methane emissions from natural gas transmission and storage facilities. The study is another in a series performed by academic institutions and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) seeking to gain a better idea of the scale of methane emissions from natural gas infrastructure.

Some of you may remember our discussion of the LDC edition of this study, performed by Washington State University researchers, on our May webinar.

Much like previous studies Colorado State’s research indicated that actual methane emissions from pipelines and storage facilities are far lower than EPA estimates, 27% lower on average across the nation. Why does this matter? Don Santa, President of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America (INGAA) broke it down in a recent blog:

 “This finding is important. It underscores why the EPA needs to update the emissions factors it uses to estimate its inventory to reflect more accurately how the transmission and storage sector operates today.  EPA largely relies on data from a nearly 20-year-old study to calculate its greenhouse gas inventory. While EPA has appropriately updated emission factors and estimation methods in select cases for other industry sources, including wells in the exploration and production sector, it has not for transmission and storage sector sources.”

Click here to read Don Santa’s blog, where he breaks down some of the other key takeaways from the study.