NW Natural Launches “Energy Analyzer” to Help Customers Save Energy & Money

PORTLAND, Ore. — Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE:NWN), has created a new tool to help customers save energy and money.

The online Energy Analyzer is easy to use: customers simply go to the company website’s Energy Analyzer page, log in, and then begin answering questions about their energy use. Then they will receive a wide range of suggestions to improve the efficiency of their home based on how much time and skill they have for energy projects; how much money they care to invest; and how much energy they’d like to save. Options could include turning down the temperature on the water heater to upgrading a heating system and/or adding insulation.

There are dozens of steps in between to match time, budget and interests. Customers can choose how much sweat equity, skill and money they want to invest, as well as how much energy and money they want to save.

“We want to thank Energy Trust of Oregon for partnering with us to make this new tool possible,” said Cory Beck, NW Natural Communications & Internet Services manager. “Our customers are paying less for natural gas than they did 10 years ago. But they can save even more money and energy when they take steps to improve the efficiency of their home.”

The Energy Analyzer also helps customers compare the amount of energy they use to similar homes in the area. If they are using more than their neighbors, they can learn some easy ways to cut use and save money. Users can also sign up to receive ongoing emails to remind them to finish the energy-saving projects they’ve self-selected.

Customers who try out the Energy Analyzer between July 14 and September 5 will automatically be entered into a contest to win a tankless water heater. Visit nwnatural.com for complete contest rules.

CMAQ Funding Means More CNG Stations for Oregon

Last week Governor Kitzhaber announced the distribution of $4 million in grant funding to develop eight compress natural gas (CNG) fueling stations throughout the state. What does eight new CNG stations mean for Oregon? A lot!

Here’s a map of existing CNG fueling stations in the United States. You’ll notice that the Pacific Northwest is a little short on dots. The proposed projects will help fill out Oregon’s I5 corridor and add options on the east side of the Cascades as well.

CNG Stations

Source: CNGnow.com

The winning grant recipients, and the location of their proposed fueling stations are:

  • City of Wilsonville
  • City of Bend
  • Clean Water Services (Hillsboro)
  • Smalley Trucking (Sutherlin)
  • Tyree Oil (Roseburg)
  • Fitz Enterprise (NE Portland)
  • Metro (NW Portland)
  • TriMet (Beaverton)

Keep an eye out for some new dots on that CNG station map soon!

Governor Kitzhaber announces awards to spur compressed natural gas market in Oregon

(Salem, OR) — Governor Kitzhaber today announced awards for eight projects that will advance alternative fuels across the state. Oregon Department of Transportation will award a total of $4 million in federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Funds to qualified projects to spur the compressed natural gas (CNG) market in Oregon and diversify fuel options for Oregon consumers.

“Today we take an important step forward in diversifying our fuel supply,” Governor Kitzhaber said. “These awards will support projects that help Oregonians transition to lower-cost, lower-carbon clean fuel.”

The Governor’s 10-Year Energy Action Plan calls for converting 20 percent of Oregon’s large fleets to alternative fuels in the next 10 years. Transportation is the single largest contributor to Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 37 percent of total emissions. CNG offers lower greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline or diesel.

Five projects located along the I-5 corridor from Portland to Sutherlin will provide CNG fueling stations for a variety of businesses located throughout Oregon. Other projects will make investments in Oregon communities that currently lack CNG infrastructure, such as Bend. Projects were selected based on a variety of factors, including location, reduction in air emissions, and public benefit.

“A resilient economy is less reliant on the boom/bust cycle of a single fuel source,” said ODOT Director Matt Garrett. “Diversifying our fuel supply provides options and helps businesses and local governments save money on their fuel bills, freeing up money they can reinvest.”

The winning projects: City of Wilsonville, City of Bend, Clean Water Services (Hillsboro), Smalley Trucking (Sutherlin), Tyree Oil (Roseburg), Fitz Enterprise (NE Portland), Metro (NW Portland) and TriMet (Beaverton).

The award recipients – seven CNG fueling stations and one renewable natural gas fueling station – will be used for different services, including transit, public fleets, and waste haulers. The announcement comes the same week as the opening of a new public CNG fueling station in Eugene.

NGSA 2014 Summer Outlook Indicates Slight Upward Pressure on Natural Gas Prices Compared to Summer 2013

(Washington, D.C.) – Pressure on natural gas prices is likely to be slightly upward this summer compared to summer 2013, the Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA) today said in its annual Summer Outlook assessment of the natural gas market. Using published data and independent analyses, NGSA’s 2014 Summer Outlook for Natural Gas evaluated the combined impact of the weather, economy, customer demand, production activity and storage inventories on the direction of natural gas prices for the coming summer, compared to the same data for the summer of 2013 when Henry Hub prices averaged $3.77 per MMBtu.

NGSA emphasized that the upward pressure on prices is summer over summer and does not include data on winter prices.

“When NGSA weighed all the different factors, the picture that emerged for this summer is one of slightly increased pressure on natural gas prices, chiefly because of the need to inject a greater than average amount of natural gas into storage in the wake of an extreme winter,” said Greg Vesey, Chairman of NGSA and Vice President of Gas Supply and Trading for Chevron. “Looking at all key factors combined, NGSA expects soft upward pressure on prices compared with last summer.”

Key Supply Factor for Summer 2014 – PRODUCTION

NGSA’s 2014 Summer Outlook predicts that a record-setting amount of natural gas will be produced this summer compared to summer 2013, placing downward pressure on prices. In contrast, imports and exports are expected to remain at similar levels to last summer.

Vesey said, “Our analyst expects production to be record-setting in part because of shale gas and in part due to a considerable amount of natural gas currently being produced in association with oil- and liquids-directed drilling. Finally, production is robust because of the numerous new pipelines and processing plants in service that are carrying previously- stranded natural gas away from the Marcellus and other production areas.”

Key Demand Factor for Summer 2014 – STORAGE

Turning to summer demand for natural gas, NGSA projected that pressure to bring storage to adequate levels before the winter heating season will place upward pressure on prices this summer compared to summer 2013. NGSA estimated an average of 83 Bcf/week in storage injections. Vesey said, “We have confidence in the market’s resilience and ability to achieve those record weekly injections, thanks to the industry’s responsiveness and the abundance of shale gas. It’s a testament to the flexibility of our industry that we were able to average storage injections of 79 Bcf/week even back in 2003, long before shale gas had increased production to our current record-setting levels.”

Key Trend to Watch – CUSTOMER DEMAND

NGSA predicted that the industrial sector will increase its summer gas demand by 5 percent compared to summer 2013, primarily because of numerous new natural gas-intensive industrial projects. [Slides 7, 10] However, this summer’s industrial demand increase is predicted to be offset by a drop in electric demand compared to summer 2013. NGSA explained that summer electric demand is projected to decline because less coal-to-gas fuel switching is forecasted than occurred in the summer of 2013. Coal-to-gas switching is a short- term, purely price-driven phenomenon that occurs when natural gas-fired power plants are dispatched instead of coal-fired plants.

Vesey said, “Fuel switching is a temporary response. In contrast, the installation of new gas- fired electric capacity indicates that the long-term electric demand for natural gas is growing and will continue to increase over the next few years.”

In brief, NGSA’s analysis of individual supply and demand factors showed:
Weather –Temperatures similar to the summer of 2013 are expected to place neutral pressure on natural gas prices compared to last summer. Energy Ventures Analysis predicts summer 2014 weather that is 1 percent warmer than last summer.

Economy –Improved unemployment numbers, the highest Consumer Sentiment Index numbers since 2007 and summer 2014 GDP growth expected to exceed last summer’s are encouraging, but the incremental improvement is not quite large enough to influence prices. NGSA expects the economy to place neutral pressure on natural gas prices this summer.

Demand – Customer demand is expected to exert neutral pressure on prices summer-over-summer. The expectation for improved demand from industrial sector of 5 percent is offset by a projection for 3 percent electric sector decline due to less coal-to-gas switching by price-sensitive generators. Residential/commercial demand is predicted the same as summer 2013.

Storage –Record weekly storage injections averaging around [83] Bcf/week are expected to bring storage to 3,400 Bcf by the end of the injection season. The estimated size of storage injections is projected to place upward pressure on prices compared to the summer of 2013.

Production – Record-setting summer production estimated at 68.5 Bcf/day is expected to exert downward pressure on prices.

NGSA used data from: Energy Ventures Analysis (EVA) for its demand projections; Energy Information Administration for production projections; IHS Global Insight for economic projections; and NOAA for weather. The association does not project actual figures for wholesale or retail market prices.

For more information, please see NGSA’s 2014 Summer Outlook for Natural Gas Executive Summary and NGSA’s 2014 Summer Outlook PowerPoint presentation at www.ngsa.org.

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NGSA represents integrated and independent companies that supply natural gas. Established in 1965, NGSA encourages the use of natural gas within a balanced national energy policy, and promotes the benefits of competitive markets to ensure reliable and efficient transportation and delivery of natural gas and to increase the supply of natural gas to U.S. customers. Visit www.ngsa.org and www.naturalgas.org for more information.

NW Natural to Credit $11 Million to Oregon Customers on June Bills

PORTLAND, Ore. –Northwest Natural Gas Company, dba NW Natural (NYSE:NWN), will issue an Interstate Storage credit to its Oregon customers on their June bills for the 13th year in a row.

This year’s credit is for approximately $11 million and will equate to about $12 for the average residential customer in Oregon or nearly $48 for the average commercial customer.

The credit is being given because of efficient pipeline capacity management and effective use of the company’s underground natural gas storage facility in Mist, Oregon, during the 2013 calendar year. The technique used to make the most of these resources is called “optimization.”

In the last 13 years, savings provided back to customers from the company’s Mist gas storage operations have totaled more than $96 million.

AGA: Flexible Approach Allows for Efficient and Affordable Applications of Clean Natural Gas

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) issued the following statement on the announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a proposed rule under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act:

“The American Gas Association believes it is critical that the rule design include a flexible approach for compliance and allow for the efficient and affordable applications of clean natural gas,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO. “Natural gas used directly in homes and businesses, and technologies such as combined heat and power, are key parts of a clean and secure energy portfolio for our nation. Natural gas delivers solutions for our economy and our environment and local natural gas utilities bring those benefits home.”

Direct use

·         Natural gas consumed directly in appliances for heating and cooling, water heating, cooking and clothes drying achieves 92 percent energy efficiency.

·         A household with natural gas versus all-electric appliances produces 37 percent lower greenhouse gas emissions.

·         Converting natural gas or any other fossil fuel into electricity to power comparable electric end-use products only maintains 32 percent of usable energy.

Combined heat and power (CHP)

·         Using American energy, labor and knowledge, CHP can generate electricity and capture useful heat simultaneously to increase the overall efficiency of an energy system.

·         The use of natural gas, the preferred fuel choice for CHP applications, allows for new electricity generation to meet current and future demand at costs up to 50 percent less than traditional forms of delivered new baseload electricity.

·         CHP uses less fuel and emits lower levels of greenhouse gases using established technology that can reduce energy costs to businesses and help reduce their environmental footprint.

Governor Kitzhaber Launches Oregon’s First Public CNG Fueling Station

Governor John Kitzhaber will cut the ribbon at Oregon’s first public Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) fueling station June 11 in Eugene.  Because costs can run 50% less than gasoline and diesel, CNG is commonly used in private fleets, but until now, there hasn’t been a completely public station. The environmental benefits include less greenhouse gas emissions and has been a key part of Kitzhaber’s 10-Year Energy Plan.

“Building a clean energy future means cleaner-burning and more efficient vehicles need access to a network of fueling stations,” Governor Kitzhaber explained, “This is the first of many CNG stations around our state.”

John Anderson, whose family owns Eugene based Truck Haven, operator of the Travel Card Commercial Fueling CNG station, says the half million dollar retrofit can be done to most any traditional gas station, but it’s a long-term investment.

“We will just begin to see the benefit in our lifetime,” said Anderson, “But our family feels strongly in investing in an energy future that is better for our environment.  My daughter, nieces, nephews and are going to be the generation where CNG is as common as traditional gasoline is today.”

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, although CNG is more commonplace around the world, there are just 705 CNG stations in the Unites States. and Greg Kantor, CEO of NW Natural Gas, the CNG supplier, as well as Representatives of Oregon’s Department of Energy will be on hand to provide additional information on the future of CNG planned in Oregon.

 

The public is invited to the ribbon cutting event to see a variety of alternative fuel vehicles including: CNG, Hybrid, Electric, Propane and Bi-fuel. Representatives from the transportation industry will be there as well including: Freightliner, Peterbilt, Kenworth, Navistar, Ford, Cummins Westport, World CNG, TECHSTAR CNG Systems, and many more..

WHAT: Ribbon Cutting for Oregon’s first Compressed Natural Gas fueling station

WHEN: June 11, 2014 – 10:00 Governor Press Conference         

Alternative Fuel Vehicles on Display to the public from 9am-Noon.

WHERE: 65 N Seneca Road, Eugene Oregon

Lunch will be provided by Northwest Natural

Natural Gas Utilities Applaud President’s Efforts to Upgrade Our Nation’s Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – The United States has more than 2.4 million miles of natural gas pipelines. President Barack Obama is calling for action under Executive Order 13604 to upgrade and modernize our nation’s infrastructure, highlighting his administration’s efforts to streamline the federal permitting process and reduce the timelines for approving projects. America’s natural gas utilities share the goal of a safe, resilient, clean energy infrastructure and work with federal and state regulators to build and maintain a 21st century infrastructure capable of safely and reliably delivering natural gas to homes and business throughout the United States.

“America’s natural gas utilities are deeply committed to upgrading and modernizing our nation’s infrastructure,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association. “We applaud the Administration’s effort to improve permitting processes for infrastructure projects, by cutting timelines, reducing red tape, and promoting transparency through a modernized process.  As natural gas utilities plan infrastructure upgrades, these reforms will give utilities more regulatory certainty and will increase early coordination of multi-agency permitting processes to reduce costs for utilities and agencies.  These reforms will also help ensure that agencies and stakeholders are working together during the permitting process to build on, and consistently implement, best practices for environmental mitigation.”

Safety is the top priority for natural gas utilities. Since 1990, natural gas utilities have installed modern plastic pipes used for delivering gas at low pressure at a rate of 30,000 miles per year, and cathodically protected steel mains used for high pressure delivery at a rate of 1,500 miles per year, both connecting new customers and upgrading existing pipeline infrastructure. Natural gas emissions from utility-owned distribution systems have dropped 17 percent during that time period and nearly 90 percent of those emissions declines are due to pipeline replacements.

“The increased and strategic use of American natural gas across all sectors will help achieve our national goals of reducing our costs for energy, protecting our environmental and securing our energy future, yet there are policies that need to be revised to clear the way for this to happen. Improving the permitting processes for infrastructure projects is a great step towards making it possible for all Americans to experience the efficiency, environmental and economic benefits of natural gas,” McCurdy continued.

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About the American Gas Association

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 71 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 94 percent — over 68 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets more than one-fourth of the United States’ energy needs.

2014 Gas Outlook

“The Natural Gas Outlook serves as an important point of reference for energy stakeholders in the Pacific Northwest,” said Ed Brewer, NWGA Board President and Vice President and General Manager of Williams Northwest Pipeline. “These stakeholders are navigating decisions concerning abundant North American natural gas supply options, existing and potential new markets and the infrastructure needed to bring the supply and demand together,” he added.

DOE Study: Choosing Natural Gas Appliances Can Double Energy Savings

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today announced that residential customers could cut their annual heating costs nearly in half by choosing natural gas appliances. These findings come with the release of AGA’s 2014 Representative Average Residential Space Heating and Water Heating Costs analysis, which compare average annual costs for various types of space and water heating appliances. According to estimates, customers can save up to $1,262 on space heating and more than $300 on water heating costs annually by using appliances powered by natural gas instead of other common energy choices. The cost comparisons are based on the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Representative Average Unit Costs of Energy notice as published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2014. After a winter marked by sustained cold and record energy demand, this information can help Americans to better understand how to meet their energy needs.

“These numbers show that natural gas is the clear choice for consumers looking to save on home heating costs,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “Choosing natural gas means you don’t have to choose between your wallet and the environment. This is because the direct use of natural gas in home appliances is the clean, efficient choice, achieving 92 percent energy efficiency and producing nearly 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a home with all-electric appliances.”

America’s natural gas utilities are dedicated to helping their customers achieve even greater savings. In 2012, natural gas utilities spent $1.1 billion on efficiency programs, providing valuable tools, incentives and information to help their customers understand and reduce their energy usage. Many in the nation continue to struggle to pay their energy bills, and these resources, along with assistance to low income customers provided by utilities and government programs such as LIHEAP, are essential to ensuring that no American needs to choose between energy and other basic needs.

A piece of equipment with a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating provides greater savings for customers. For example, a 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest cost space heating option for homeowners, followed by an 80 percent AFUE natural gas furnace. Both offer significant annual operating cost savings over comparable space heating options.

The tables below demonstrate estimated cost comparisons for home and water heating devices.

SPACE HEATING ANALYSIS SUMMARY: The space heating analysis is based on a 2,072 square foot house located in St. Louis and represents a 5,000 Heating Degree Day location. The house meets the energy conservation provisions in the 2012 International Residential Code and the space heating equipment is selected from the AHRI online directory. The 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest annual operating cost followed by the 80 percent AFUE gas furnace.

 

2014 Space Heating Annual Cost Summary

(Annual Operating Cost)

 

Heating Equipment Type 5000 Heating Degree Days
97% AFUE Gas Furnace $544
80% AFUE Gas Furnace $714
7.7 HSPF Electric Heat Pump $1,029
97% AFUE Propane Furnace $1,409
87% AFUE Oil Furnace $1,500
80% AFUE Propane Furnace $1,793
80% AFUE Oil Furnace $1,614
Electric Resistance Furnace $1,806

 

WATER HEATER ANALYSIS SUMMARY: The water heater analysis is based on the equivalent First Hour Rating (FHR), national average energy usage, and the 2014 energy costs as published by DOE. A natural gas 40-gallon and an electric 50-gallon, both conventional storage types, are chosen based on their FHR. The natural gas water heater would provide the lowest annual operating cost.

 

2014 Water Heating Annual Cost Summary

(Annual Operating Cost from Low to High)

Water Heater Type Annual Cost
40 Gallon Natural Gas (FHR = 74 gallons) $275
50 Gallon Electric (FHR = 67 gallons) $576

 

COMBINATION SPACE HEATING AND WATER HEATER INSTALLATION: Based on the annual cost analysis for space heating and water heaters, the combination of a natural gas 97% AFUE furnace and storage water heater provides the lowest operating cost space/water heating package.

 

2014 Space Heating with Water Heater Installations

(Annual Operating Cost from Low to High)

 

Space Heating/ Water Heating Type Annual Cost
Natural Gas: 97% AFUE Furnace & Water Heater $819
Natural Gas: 80% AFUE & Water Heater $989
Electric: Heat Pump & Water Heater $1,605

 

About the American Gas Association

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 71 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 92 percent — more than 65 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets almost one-fourth of the United States’ energy needs.