Kirschner to Talk Natgas Transportation at Medford CNG Station Grand Opening, Dec. 5

The grand opening and sparkling cider toast for Oregon’s largest compressed natural gas fueling station will be held from 11:30 am to 12:30 pm Wednesday, December 5 at Rogue Valley Transportation District, 3200 Crater Lake Avenue, Medford.

Dan Kirschner, executive director of Northwest Natural Gas Association in West Linn, Ore., will talk about Southern Oregon as a CNG leader. Tim D’Alessandro, RVTD operations manager, will describe how the station works, the cost savings and benefits of cleaner air. Senior Field Representative Troy Ferguson will talk about Congressman Greg Walden’s support for RVTD’s pioneering use of domestic fuel in 15 of its 23 buses since 1994.

The event will feature a CNG-fueled Crater Lake Trolley that hauls visitors on ranger-guided tours of Crater Lake National Park, Rogue Disposal and Recycling’s CNG waste truck, Jackson County’s new CNG Chevy cargo van, a CNG Honda Civic from Lithia and an RVTD CNG-powered bus. CNG drivers are enjoying a fuel price of $1.41 per gallon, compared to about $3.35 for regular gas.

RVTD received a CMAQ grant and other funding to rebuild its 18-year-old facility, one of two public CNG stations in Oregon. The other is located at Jackson County Motor Pool, 808 W. Main Street, Medford. The grand opening is also sponsored by Avista Utilities and Rogue Valley Clean Cities Coalition. Parking is available in the RVTD lot on Ford Drive off of Crater Lake Avenue. For information, visit the website, www.roguevalleycleancities.org, send an email to melissa@roguevalleycleancities or call 541-779-0569.

Savings Calculator Helps Reduce Barriers for Natural Gas Vehicles

Washington, D.C. – Natural gas is 47 percent less expensive on average than equivalent gallons of gasoline and 59 percent less than equivalent gallons of diesel. The Drive Natural Gas Initiative, a collaboration between natural gas utilities and producers, is launching a Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator to help fleet owners conduct a preliminary analysis of  the total costs associated with converting a fleet, or part of a fleet, to natural gas.

“The Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator is powerful step forward in our ability to help reduce barriers to entry for natural gas vehicles by providing fleet managers with the information they need to make their own assessments about the benefits of natural gas,” said Drive Natural Gas Initiative Executive Director Kathryn Clay. “Throughout the nation, businesses are making the switch to natural gas because it’s good for the bottom line. Any fleet owners interested in putting less money into their fuel tanks and more money into growing their businesses should consider what natural gas can do for them. By providing information tools like this new calculator, we are making it easier for more people to take advantage of our domestic abundance of this clean energy source.”

The Drive Natural Gas Initiative worked with Ricardo, a leading global provider of product innovation, engineering solutions, clean technology and strategic consulting, to develop this helpful tool. 

The Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator is a spreadsheet based, total cost of ownership evaluation tool.  It comes pre-loaded with the current numbers for natural gas vehicle availability and cost, but it is also fully customizable for fleet managers to input the parameters that best describe the kind of vehicles they use, and how they use them.

Tomorrow, the Drive Natural Gas Initiative and Ricardo will hold a webinar to explain the Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator including a demonstration of the tool and explanation of its implications in the alternative fuel marketplace.

The Natural Gas Fleet Savings Calculator is available here.

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Burner Tip

What it means: A generic term referring to the final stage in the natural gas system, the ultimate point of consumption.  The term also applies to an attachment for a burner head.

See it in action: While an actual burner tip looks like this, something you would see on a gas stove or fireplace; when those in the natural gas industry use the term they are often talking about where natural gas is being consumed, either in an industrial setting or the home. Increasing the in-home consumption at the burner tip by converting appliances to natural gas is an excellent way to make your home more efficient.

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.

Follow the NWGA on Twitter: @Ben_at_NWGA

NARUC Receives Plaudits for Continued Recognition of Natural Gas’ Benefits

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) commends the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) for  adopting two resolutions at their 124th Annual Meeting in Baltimore, MD that recognize the role natural gas can play in moving our nation forward by eliminating regulatory barriers to utilizing this clean energy source in more affordable and efficient ways.

“The development and deployment of both CHP technologies and alternative fuel vehicles are critically important to providing consumers with the best energy value now and into the future,” said Kyle Rogers, AGA’s Vice President of Government Relations. “America’s natural gas utilities work with regulators on the local and national level to achieve our shared goals of boosting our economy, improving our environment and increasing our energy security. We commend them on their continued commitment to this effort.”

In adopting a resolution in support of the deployment of combined heat and power (CHP), the NARUC board encourages state public service commissions to work with stakeholders and other agencies to support cost effective investment in CHP opportunities, explore educational opportunities and forums on CHP, and evaluate regulatory mechanisms and consider and identify ways to best deploy cost effective CHP technologies. The resolution notes that CHP provides an opportunity improve the competitiveness of United States manufacturing, lower energy costs, free up future capital for businesses to invest, reduce air pollution and create jobs.

CHP, which generates electricity and captures useful heat simultaneously, is among the most efficient heat and power generating systems available. Over 70 percent of CHP installations use natural gas.

NARUC also adopted a resolution focused on expanding the alternative fuel vehicle (AFV) market, which urges state and federal regulators to collaborate with other policymakers to remove barriers to AFV deployment, and ensure consistent, fuel-neutral policies to help realize the full economic, environmental and societal benefits of AFVs.

The resolution supports the continued development of utility company programs and policies that advance the AFV market including the installation of advanced metering technologies and control systems, designing innovative rates and incentives, and assessing transmission and distribution systems to minimize any potential risk to reliability and maximize consumer savings.

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)

What it means: Natural gas which has been liquefied by reducing its temperature to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit at atmospheric pressure (i.e. liquefaction). In volume, it occupies 1/600 of the vapor at standard conditions, making long distance shipping feasible.

See it in action: Due to its smaller volume, LNG is useful as a storage option for natural gas should a utility need to quickly meet excess demand, such as in times of  very cold weather. A number of NWGA members operate LNG peaking facilities, Fortis BC has a good overview of their LNG storage facilities on their website.

LNG is also gaining traction as a transportation fuel, especially for long haul trucking. Its high energy gives LNG similar characteristics as conventional gasoline with fewer emissions, including up to a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases. With diesel prices currently hovering around twice the price of LNG a number of large companies are working to provide more vehicle fueling opportunities. Big industry players, GE and Clean Energy, recently announced plans to build a number of LNG fueling stations.

A Natural Gas Term of the Week is posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.  Follow the NWGA on Twitter @Ben_at_NWGA

 

Lower Gas Prices Mean NW Natural’s Oregon Customers Pay Less This Winter

PORTLAND, Ore. — Northwest Natural Gas Company,announced that the Public Utility Commission of Oregon (OPUC) approved a rate reduction for NW Natural gas customers.

Separately, the OPUC issued its decision earlier this week on NW Natural’s general rate case that was filed last December, increasing the company’s annual revenues from base rates by about 1 percent.

Together, these adjustments result in about a 5 percent rate reduction for residential customers and about a 6 percent reduction for commercial customers.

That means an average residential customer using 53 therms per month would see a monthly bill decrease of about $3, and an average commercial customer using 221 therms per month would see a monthly bill decrease of about $14.

“Natural gas costs have fallen steadily, in large part because of robust domestic natural gas supplies,” said Gregg Kantor, NW Natural president and CEO. “That means that over the last four years, our customers have saved about $400 million from lower gas prices.”

Each year, NW Natural and other local gas utilities adjust their rates to reflect changes in wholesale natural gas prices. The new rates reflect gas purchases for the year beginning Nov. 1. Customers will see the change on their bills starting tomorrow.

Natural Gas Utilities Activate Mutual Assistance Program In Response to Hurricane Sandy

Washington, D.C. – Safety is the top priority for the American Gas Association (AGA) and its member companies. Our hearts go out to those that have been affected by the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. Natural gas utilities throughout the country are working to help these communities with their rebuilding efforts.

American Gas Association members participate in a mutual assistance program for unprecedented disasters requiring the dedication of response, recovery and restoration resources outside the limits of existing local, state and regional mutual assistance programs. In preparation for Hurricane Sandy, and in its aftermath, more than twenty natural gas utilities have held daily calls to offer assistance and guidance to utilities and safety officials in the communities where natural gas service has been interrupted.

In New Jersey alone, there are more than 400 personnel on the ground, including crews from eight other natural gas utilities from surrounding areas. AGA staff has worked closely with the Northeast Gas Association to coordinate utility assistance to companies in need and has been in constant contact with the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and other federal and local regulators.

Clean natural gas provides one-fourth of the nation’s energy. This abundant, domestic resource is the dominant source of energy for heat and hot water in residences and businesses across this country.  The natural gas industry operates over 2.4 million miles of pipelines – the largest and safest energy delivery system in the world. Our members work with public officials, emergency responders, excavators, consumers, safety advocates and members of the public to continue to improve the industry’s longstanding record of providing natural gas service safely and effectively to more than 177 million Americans.

America’s natural gas utilities are a leading voice for safety in the pipeline industry. Our “Commitment to Enhancing Safety,” released in May, details actions that are being addressed by AGA or individual operators that go above and beyond current pipeline regulations. The industry has put in place a number of safeguards to help better detect a potential natural gas leak. For instance, utilities odorize natural gas with Mercaptan — which smells similar to rotten eggs — in order to provide an added layer of safety for leak detection purposes. In addition, all natural gas pipeline operators are required to develop and implement a pipeline safety public awareness program to help educate the public in the vicinity of a pipeline, as well as state and local emergency response personnel, public officials and excavators.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Program and the U.S. Fire Administration have provided these tips for consumers during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.