Avista’s Oregon Customers to see Rate Reduction

Avista Utilities customers in Oregon are poised to receive a nice reduction in their natural gas rates if the Oregon Public Utility Commission signs off on a filing made yesterday. Reduced pipeline transport costs are behind the lower prices which could save the average consumer a few bucks every month, not bad!

If the requests are approved, Avista residential customers using an average 48 therms a month could expect their bills to decrease by $3.27, or 5.6 percent, for a revised monthly bill of $54.73.

Click here to read the full article in the Medford Mail Tribune.

Intermountain Gas Restores Service to Customers After Idaho Fire, Evacuations

Over the past month, a wildfire on the west side of the Wood River Valley near Hailey, Idaho, has scorched more than 113,000 acres, including some of the state’s most prestigious resort areas. Ignited Aug. 7 by a lightning strike, the Beaver Creek Fire prompted the evacuation of more than 400 homes in rural residential areas affected by the blaze, including Intermountain Gas Co. customers.

Intermountain crews began shutting down local distribution systems Aug. 12 during the evacuation orders until the fire could be contained. The utility worked in tandem with emergency managers as the fire approached Hailey and began moving north to Ketchum, Idaho. More than 20 Intermountain employees assisted in shut-off operations.

“Everyone from our crews worked safely and efficiently under extreme conditions,” said Byron Defenbach, Manager of Energy Utilization for Intermountain. “Our employees worked long hours in heat, dust and smoke. We had no work injuries during shut-off and restoration efforts, and that’s a testament to the professionalism of our crews and their commitment to safety.”

Residents began returning to their homes Aug. 20 after the evacuation orders had been lifted, and the fire largely was contained.  Intermountain continued its operations by restoring energy services to homes. In order to do so, gas lines need to be purged and re-pressured. Technicians also had to go into each home to relight pilots for appliances.

NW Natural & American Red Cross team up for National Preparedness Month

PORTLAND, Ore. – NW Natural and the American Red Cross are teaming up during National Preparedness Month to help Oregonians prepare for a natural disaster or emergency. During the month of September, Get Ready events will be held in the 10 communities of Portland, Vancouver, Salem, Eugene, Hood River, The Dalles, Vernonia, Astoria, Lincoln County, and Coos Bay.

The events are free to the general public. The first 100 families will receive free Red Cross emergency kits. Free food will be provided at most, as well as safety demonstrations, kids’ activities, and materials from local emergency groups. There is no need to register: attendees can just show up.

Additionally, NW Natural will donate $2,000 to the American Red Cross Cascades Region at nine of the 10 events for a total of $18,000 from its Corporate Philanthropy fund.

“We want to go beyond just making a financial contribution, so we’re partnering with local emergency groups within our service territory to educate the public on how we can all Get Ready before a natural disaster strikes,” said Von Summers, NW Natural corporate community affairs manager.

Here are the details on who will be joining NW Natural and the American Red Cross Cascades Region for each event:

* Get Ready Portland, September 7 — Portland Fire & Rescue on Naito Parkway from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., joined by Portland Fire & Rescue, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management, Portland Police, DOGAMI and Dove Lewis.

* Get Ready Salem, September 7 — Salem Riverfront Park, North Meadow, Rotary Pavilion, from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., joined by Salem Fire Department, Salem CERT, Rural/Metro Ambulance, Salem Health, Polk County Sheriff Marine Patrol, Oregon Office of Emergency Management, and the Oregon Health Authority (Health Security Preparedness Response Program).

* Get Ready Eugene/Springfield, September 7 – Alton Baker Park from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., joined by Eugene and Springfield Fire Department, EWEB, CERT and more.

* Get Ready Coos Bay, September 7 – Coos Bay Fire Station on Elrod Ave. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., joined by Coos Bay Fire Department, CERT, CPR, City of Coos Bay Police, Bay Cities Ambulance, Bay Area Hospital, Coos County Emergency Management, South Coast Preppers and Car Seat Clinic and more.

* Get Ready Vancouver, September 7 – NW Natural and the Red Cross will have our Get Ready table at CRESA’s Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

* Get Ready North Coast, September 14 – Camp Rilea in Warrenton from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., joined by Astoria, Seaside and Gearhart Fire Departments, Lutheran Disaster Response and Clatsop County Amateur Radio Emergency Services

* Get Ready Hood River, September 14 – Hood River Fire Department on Meyer Parkway from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., joined by Hood River Fire & EMS, Citizen Corps, Medical Reserve Corps, Safe Kids Columbia Gorge, and Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

* Get Ready Vernonia, September 14 – Vernonia School from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., joined by Vernonia Rural Fire Protection District, Columbia County Emergency Management, and the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County.

* Get Ready Lincoln County, September 28 – National Guard Armory on SW Coast Hwy. in Newport from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., joined by Newport Fire Department, Newport Police and the Lincoln County Sheriff.

* Get Ready The Dalles, September 28 – Water’s Edge on Lone Pine Blvd. from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., joined by Mid-Columbia Fire & Rescue, Wasco County Sheriff’s Office, CERT, Medical Reserve Corps, Oregon Department of Human Services, Community Action Partnership, OSU Extension Service, Home At Last Animal Shelter and SERVPRO.

“These events are an engaging way to bring people together and get them to think or talk about the ways they can prepare for a natural disaster,” said Francisco Ianni, director of preparedness for American Red Cross Cascades Region. “We thank NW Natural for taking a leadership role in helping us all get ready.”

On 8/11 a Reminder to Dial 811

PORTLAND, Ore. –On August 11 or 8/11, Northwest Natural Gas Company, reminds people to call 811 to have underground pipelines and other utilities located before digging.

“Whether you’re a homeowner planting in your own yard, a small contractor hired to put in a fence, or a large contractor working on a major construction project, every project that involves digging warrants a call to 811,” said Dawn Johnson, public information officer at NW Natural.

You’re required by law to call the toll free number at least two business days before digging. There is no charge to have utility lines located, but failing to call could result in penalties and fines if underground utilities are damaged.

Third-party “dig-ins” are the most common cause of natural gas pipeline damages. So far this summer, NW Natural has responded to 221 damages to our pipelines. In our service territory, there are an average 500 dig-ins that occur each year. Since NW Natural began educational efforts on this topic in 2006, we have met with more than 700 contractors and have reduced damages by 60 percent.

If you or your contractor accidentally damages an underground gas pipeline, leave the area then call 911 and NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency number 800.882.3377.

Natural Gas Term of the Week: Marine Fuel

What it Means:Refers to the heavy oil used to power large oceangoing vessels such as ferries and freight tankers; also referred to as bunker fuel.

See it in Action:What does marine fuel have to do with natural gas? Plenty!

As shippers look for more environmentally friendly and cost-effective alternatives to bunker fuel they are increasingly turning their attention to natural gas in both its compressed and liquefied forms. Making the switch results in significant reductions in greenhouse gas (20-30%) and sulfur oxide (90%+) while allowing shippers to reap the rewards of historically low current natural gas prices.

The Washington State Ferry System received publicity recently for their interest in switching to Liquefied Natural Gas to fuel their fleet and there could be more on the way. A number of shipping companies on the West Coast are also exploring conversions to natural gas. Keep an eye out for more developments!

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

New NW Natural ad “Little Leaks” highlights safety

PORTLAND, Ore. –This week, Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE:NWN), and Hinge Digital debut, “Little Leaks,” a creative safety commercial that teaches the public not to ignore even the faintest odor of what could be a small gas leak.

The smell of natural gas – rotten eggs – and what to do when it’s noticed, are brought to life in the TV ad through advanced animation that also incorporates live action shots with real people.

“It was unique for us to create multiple animated characters for one television spot,” said Roland Gauthier, executive producer and founder of Hinge Digital. “It’s great because they can do things that live actors are not able to do.”

Hinge first conducted a live action shoot in a real house. To stage the lighting for the animated characters that would be added later, Mr. Potato Head dolls were used as stand-in “actors” for the animated eggs who were later composited into the live action footage (picture attached).

Then back at the studio, Hinge added animated kid-like eggs to the scenes doing “rotten” things like hanging from a chandelier. The homeowner begins to take notice and leaves her house to call the gas company, which is exactly the right thing to do if you smell natural gas.

“Our safety messages are a top priority for us, and we want them to resonate in a way that’s memorable. This commercial uses unique animation to catch people’s attention and delivers important messages at the same time,” said Cory Beck, manager of communications and internet services at NW Natural. “We hope adults and kids alike will recall the little eggs and know to leave their house immediately if they smell a gas odor, no matter how small.”

To see the ad, click here.