EPA Says Emissions From Natural Gas Utilities Continue to Decline

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today applauded the announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that estimates of emissions from our nation’s natural gas delivery system continue their declining trend. The 19th Annual Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks affirms that “the major contributors to the decrease in emissions from 2011-2012 were the decrease in energy consumption across all sectors in the U.S. economy, and the decrease in carbon intensity for electricity generation due to fuel switching from coal to natural gas.”

“Natural gas utilities continually upgrade their systems to help enhance pipeline safety, which has led to a decline in emissions year after year,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association. “Each set of new data that comes out confirms this declining trend. We remain vigilant and deeply committed to working with state regulators and key stakeholders to continue this trend through smart, cost effective investments in system modernization.”

 

AGA_2850 GHG Emissions Infographic VER 10

 

 

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. All natural gas utilities have integrity management programs that include upgrading pipelines that may no longer be fit for service. In addition, 38 states have already adopted specific accelerated infrastructure replacement mechanisms to allow natural gas distribution utilities to recover the costs of replacing systems on a timely basis. AGA supports the expansion of these programs to include all utilities operating in these states, as well as the adoption of similar programs by additional states.

In February, the American Gas Association Board of Directors led by Chairman Gregg Kantor, approved principles for continuing the declining trend in natural gas emissions, a key step towards their goal of identifying pipeline safety best practices and a set of voluntary guidelines in this area.

Improving Infrastructure Permitting Will Help Minimize Environmental Impacts

Washington, D.C. –American Gas Association (AGA) President and CEO Dave McCurdy welcomed the announcement of a plan by the Obama Administration to improve permitting processes for infrastructure projects as part of the Department of the Interior’s Landscape-Scale Mitigation Strategy, saying:

“Natural gas utilities are members of the communities they serve and are careful to consider impacts to the local community as they expand and upgrade the natural gas pipeline network to safely and reliably deliver clean and affordable energy to more homes and businesses. For every new construction, routine maintenance, repair, replacement, and integrity and safety testing project, big or small, utilities carefully consider potential impacts on natural resources – species, habitats, cultural and historical properties – and ensure that necessary regulatory reviews and mitigation are performed to altogether avoid or minimize such impacts.

“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. These reforms will give natural gas utilities more regulatory certainty as they plan infrastructure upgrades, reduce agency costs associated with project reviews and increase landscape-level habitat mitigation techniques that measurably improve environmental protection. These reforms will also help natural gas utilities receive timely permits for projects that must be completed in a specific season to minimize environmental impacts, and projects that are time-sensitive for reliability and safety reasons. We look forward to working with the relevant agencies to implement these changes.

“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. But reaching these goals requires understanding and a visionary response on the part of government, natural gas utilities and their customers. Improving the permitting processes for infrastructure projects is a great step towards making it possible for all Americans to experience the energy efficiency, environmental and affordability benefits of natural gas.”

NW Natural Reminds Customers to Dial 811 Before Digging

PORTLAND, Ore. – Just as the weather is getting nice enough for yard projects, NW Natural reminds you to do one thing before you start working outside: call 811 before you dig. April is National Safe Digging Month, and a good time to remember that you or your contractor must call 811 to have underground utility lines located two business days before digging.

The most common cause of damages to a natural gas line is someone accidentally digging into it. Whether it’s been hit by a garden shovel, backhoe, trencher, post-hole digger or other tool, a damaged line can be a serious safety hazard and lead to unwanted fines.

“We know that it only takes one accident to create major damage, service disruptions and possible injuries,” said Scott Gallegos, NW Natural damage prevention supervisor. “That’s why it’s important for everyone to remember to make that one quick phone call to 811 before any digging occurs.”

NW Natural tracks the number of damages to its gas lines each year. The company recorded slightly more damages in 2013 than in 2012.

The company also tracks requests to locate its pipelines and responded to 13 percent more calls last year over the previous year.

“Responding to more calls for locates is a step in the right direction,” added Gallegos. “But we still have a long way to go to see the number of damages go from 500+ per year down to zero.”

If a gas line has been accidentally damaged, remember these simple tips: Smell. Go. Let us know. If you smell an odor like rotten eggs from a natural gas line and/or hear a hissing sound, immediately leave the area on foot and follow these tips:

* Do not use your telephone, cell phone or any electronic or battery-powered device.

* Do not light matches.

* Do not operate any electrical switch including lights.

* Do not create any other source of ignition or spark that could ignite the gas.

* Evacuate the area on foot.

* Call NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-800-882-3377 once you’re away.

NW Natural encourages you to visit https://www.nwnatural.com/Residential/Safety for information about digging safely.

Northwest Gas Association’s 2014 Natural Gas Outlook Highlights Potential for Increased Regional Demand

PORTLAND, OR – This week the Northwest Gas Association (NWGA) released the 2014 edition of the annual Natural Gas Outlook Study, a regional look at natural gas supply, demand and infrastructure in the Pacific Northwest.

Released annually, the Gas Outlook provides a detailed ten-year overview of expected natural gas demand, supply availability, infrastructure development and prices in the Northwest. The Outlook offers unique insight, representing a consensus view of the regional natural gas market developed by industry participants directly serving Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia.

“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.

The 2014 release continues the trend of regional growth in natural gas demand, projecting an annual growth rate of 1.5%, up from 1.2% last year. Two scenarios, discussing the potential for accelerated growth in the power generation and industrial sectors, are new in this year’s report. Looming coal plant retirements and manufacturers seeking access to affordable North American gas supply led to these additions as a means of analyzing potential large changes in demand that do not show up in the regular Outlook data set.

“The 2014 Outlook demonstrates that our region remains in a period of steady growth in demand for natural gas,” said Dan Kirschner, NWGA Executive Director. “However, a number of indicators point toward the potential for significant expansion in the coming years, particularly for industrial uses, as a fuel for generating electricity and for export. Historically, our study hasn’t addressed prospective market developments until they’re reflected in the resource plans of regional utilities. However, the potential for increased natural gas loads due to the need to replace existing coal-fired generation and new opportunities in the industrial sector led to the inclusion of these developments as alternative scenarios in our analysis.”

The 2014 Outlook continues to indicate a potential need for new or expanded natural gas delivery infrastructure by the end of the decade. While the current delivery system operates efficiently and reliably, the study notes: “Industrial and generation demand above the expected case will amplify and accelerate the need for incremental capacity.”

The full 2014 Natural Gas Outlook Study is available to view or download at:

https://www.nwga.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/2014OutlookWeb.pdf

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ABOUT THE NORTHWEST GAS ASSOCIATION: The NWGA works to foster understanding among opinion leaders and informed decision- making by governing officials on issues related to natural gas in the Pacific Northwest. Its members include six natural gas utilities serving communities throughout Idaho, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia, and three transmission pipelines that transport natural gas from supply basins into and through the region.

Former FERC Chair, Jon Wellinghoff, headlines Annual Energy Conference Agenda

We’re excited to bring former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman, Jon Wellinghoff, to the 2014 Annual Energy Conference as our lunchtime keynote speaker on June 5.

As a FERC Commissioner from 2006-2009 and Commision Chair from 2009-2013, Mr. Wellinghoff brings a host of experiences and anecdotes to the podium. He’s also one of the rare Annual Energy Conference speakers to have his own Wikipedia page.

Mr. Wellinghoff will address the group on new technologies seeking to enhance the efficient use of natural gas at both the producer and consumer levels. A hot topic as we seek out opportunities to utilize a still growing supply of natural gas produced right here in North America.

Don’t miss this keynote and other agenda highlights, book your spot at the Annual Energy Conference today! In addition to Mr. Wellinghoff we already have a number of other great speakers confirmed, including:

  • Economic Outlook, Grant Forsyth, Chief Economist, Avista Corp.
  • Natural Gas Market Fundamentals, Josh McCall, Fundamentals Advisor, BP
  • Policy & Politics of Supply, Sarah Landry, Director of Operations & Programs, Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA)

As always, there will be plenty of time to network before the conference, golf is back by popular demand along with nature hike or brewery tour options. Networking space is limited, so don’t hesitate, reserve your place at the conference today!

Will NGVs Get The Hybrid Treatment?

When you’re already powering one of the greenest cars in recent memory along with reducing the emissions of 200,000+ cars, trucks and heavy duty vehicles on North American roads, what can natural gas do for an encore? According to a recent release by the California Energy Commission (CEC), how about going hybrid?

Earlier this week the CEC released a competitive grant solicitation to look into ways to further improve natural gas vehicle efficiency by incorporating hybrid technology:

The purpose of this solicitation is to accelerate research and development of advanced natural gas engine-hybrid electric concepts for application in light heavy-duty to heavy-duty vehicles that are operated in fleets throughout California. 

 This solicitation will target research and development opportunities for hybrid systems and power management strategies that are optimal for a given application or duty cycle, and target modes where the vehicle is least efficient.

NGVs can already reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 30 percent over conventional gasoline powered vehicles, not to mention drastic reductions in nitrous oxides, black soot, and other vehicular emissions. It will be interesting to see what sort of efficiency boost could come from hybrid technology’s helping hand.

Here’s some more information on the proposal:

Energy Commission staff will hold one Pre-Application Workshop to discuss the solicitation with applicants. Participation is optional but encouraged.  Applicants may attend the workshop in-person, via the internet, or via conference call.

 Friday, March 14, 2014

10 a.m.

California Energy Commission

Hearing Room B

1516 9th Street

Sacramento, CA  95814

WebEx Instructions:

To join the WebEx meeting, visit https://energy.webex.com and enter the meeting number and password below:  

Meeting Number: 927 778 231

Meeting Password: meeting@10

Telephone Access Only:

Call 1-866-469-3239 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada). When prompted, enter the meeting number above. International callers may select their number from https://energy.webex.com/energy/globalcallin.php.  

 For more information:

http://www.energy.ca.gov/contracts/pier.html#PON-13-506

AGA Releases 2014 Natural Gas Playbook

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today released its 2014 Playbook, the essential handbook for understanding natural gas and how it can help achieve our nation’s economic, environmental and energy security goals. The 2014 Playbook contains the latest facts and data surrounding natural gas and its role in American life, including information about pipeline safety, supply and use, responsible resource development, economic benefits, emissions and energy efficiency.

“America’s abundance of clean, domestic, reliable and affordable natural gas provides a tremendous opportunity for our nation,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA. “The Playbook is a vital resource for policymakers, regulators, media and anyone seeking to engage in a fact-based conversation about the realities of natural gas and its role as a foundation fuel in a clean and secure energy future.”

The 2014 Playbook covers the history and properties of natural gas, its role throughout all sectors of the American economy including transportation, statistics about natural gas use, the natural gas industry’s commitment to enhancing safety, and the priority issues and strategies with respect to the production, transmission, distribution and increased use of America’s clean and domestically abundant energy source. It also contains facts and information about industry innovation and direct economic benefits including customer savings and industry-related job growth.

“America’s local natural gas utilities have a longstanding record of safely and reliably delivering natural gas to homes and businesses throughout the nation,” McCurdy continued. “With nearly a century of expertise, AGA and its member companies are a trusted resource for natural gas information, and will lead the way for helping to ensure that all Americans can have access to the benefits of this incredible resource.”

The 2014 Playbook can be accessed online.

NW Natural CEO Kantor Highlights Natural Gas Utilities’ Role in North American Energy Revolution

New York, NY – In a speech to the New York Society of Security Analysts today, American Gas Association Chairman Gregg Kantor emphasized the energy revolution taking place in every community in the United States. Kantor cited the important role that the more than 200 natural gas utilities play in operating a system of over 2 million miles of natural gas pipelines carrying our nation’s domestic abundance of clean natural gas to homes and businesses throughout the country safely and reliably. These companies, he said, are providing solutions for our economy and our environment.

Kantor highlighted data from the “Fueling the Future with Natural Gas: Bringing it Home” study released last week by the American Gas Foundation and IHS CERA, which found that the domestic market for natural gas can be greatly expanded beyond its current usage to provide new growth prospects for many sectors of the economy.

“Innovation and technology has dramatically changed the energy future of our country,” Kantor said. “We are seeing technological advancements taking place with regard to natural gas appliances, vehicles and even industrial applications. I believe that what we see today is just a fraction of the promise this energy source can offer. We have yet to imagine the possible end-uses and opportunities natural gas can provide.”

The safe and reliable delivery of natural gas remains the top priority of the American Gas Association and its members. Kantor outlined other initiatives underway in 2014, including enhancing energy efficiency programs and efforts to pursue a level regulatory playing field where the inherent benefits of natural gas are able to compete fairly with other energy sources. He also examined technologies and potential growth markets such as combined heat and power and natural gas for transportation.

“To realize the full potential of a natural gas-fueled future, we must update many policies surrounding natural gas that were developed during a time when natural gas was perceived to be scarce. All Americans stand to gain from visionary thinking that follows the market reality supported by our abundance of clean natural gas,” Kantor stated.

Gregg Kantor is President and CEO of NW Natural, which provides natural gas service to approximately 689,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington.

To learn more visit www.FuelingTheFuture.org.

Avista Year-End Giving Tops $239,000

Dec. 30, 2013: Community non-profits are an important safety net for so many individuals and families in our service territory, providing assistance that helps those most in need meet the costs of housing, food and medicine, keep their homes warm this winter and have a little something to celebrate the holidays. Avista Corp. and Avista Foundation have made year-end donations totaling more than $239,000 to non-profit organizations to help accomplish these goals.

Energy assistance donations total $200,000

Nineteen community service agencies in eastern Washington and northern Idaho will receive a total of $200,000 to make grants for energy assistance to qualifying Avista customers who are in need this winter and who have exhausted all other available energy assistance resources.

 

The funds come from a Washington state tax credit Avista receives for the company’s Low-Income Rate Assistance Program (LIRAP), which is administered through community action agencies serving Avista customers who live in Washington. LIRAP provides energy assistance to Avista customers using qualifications similar to the federal government’s Low-Income Heating Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

 

The organizations receiving the donations were identified by Avista’s CARES representatives (Customer Assistance Referral and Evaluation Service). These reps are specially trained and work closest with our most vulnerable customers and the community agencies that provide support services.

 

Regional food banks receive over $35,000

For those with limited income, feeding their families can be one of the biggest challenges they face each month. Food banks in Washington, Idaho and Oregon will receive $400 donations, either directly or through a distributor, for a total of $35,886 to help support the vital safety-net services they provide.

Through theirbuying power and relationships with food producers, the food banks are able to leverage donations like ours to bring several times their value to help stock the shelves for those in need.

 

Toys for Tots donation totals $4,550
Each year, Avista employees join with the Marine Corps to support the Toys for Tots campaign. This year, Avista launched a fun and interactive way for employees, customers and others to be part of the campaign. The online Holiday Sweater Generator provided the means to create some holiday fun on the computer. For each sweater generated, Avista donated $1 to Toys for Tots. To date, 3,500 sweaters have been created, and the gallery will remain open through December 31.

In addition to their generous donations of unwrapped toys, employees donated $1,050 in cash, bringing the total donation to Toys for Tots to $4,550.

 

2013 Energy Assistance
Donations
 
 
Aging and Long Term Care SE Wash. Yakima $10,000
American Childhood Cancer Org. Spokane Valley $10,000
Audubon Park Methodist Church Spokane $ 5,000
Caritas Center Spokane $ 7,000
Catholic Charities Spokane $10,000
Colville Volunteer Food & Resource Center Colville $10,000
Green House Community CenterImmaculate Conception Deer ParkColville $10,000$ 5,000
Light A Candle* Moscow, ID $ 5,000
New Hope Resource Center Colbert $15,000
Our Place Community Ministries Spokane $20,000
Providence Healthcare Foundation Spokane $10,000
St. Vincent DePaul Clarkston $10,000
Salvation Army of Lewiston* Lewiston, ID $10,000
Salvation Army of Spokane Spokane $25,000
Scottish Rite Spokane $  5,000
Spokane Valley Partners Spokane Valley $25,000
Transitions/Women’s Health Spokane $ 3,000
Volunteers of America Spokane $ 5,000
*Agencies serve customers who live in Washington

 

2013 Food Bank Donations

ACCESS, Inc.

Medford OR
Addy Rescue Mission Addy WA
Asotin County Food Bank Association Clarkston WA
ABC Food Bank Athol ID
Bonner Community Food Center* Sandpoint ID
Colville Volunteer Food and Resource Center Colville WA
Community Action Center* Pullman WA
Community Action Partnership* Lewiston ID
Community Connection of Northeast Oregon La Grande OR
Connell Food Bank Connell WA
FISH Roseburg Roseburg OR
Idaho Food Bank* Lewiston ID
Gem Community Citizens Projects Group Inc. Hayden ID
Kettle Falls Community Chest Kettle Falls WA
Klamath Lake Counties Food Bank Klamath Falls OR
Lincoln County Care and Share Davenport WA
Loon Lake Food Bank & Resource Center Loon Lake WA
Medical Lake Food Bank Association Medical Lake WA
Montana Food Bank Network, Inc.* Missoula MT
Northport Food Bank Northport WA
Northwest Harvest* Seattle WA
Othello Food Bank Othello WA
Our Place Community Ministries Spokane WA
Peaceful Valley Neighborhood Association Spokane WA
Post Falls Food Bank, Inc. Post Falls ID
Priest River Food Bank Priest River ID
Ritzville Food Pantry Ritzville WA
Second Harvest Food Bank of the Inland Northwest* Spokane WA
Senior Citizens of Chewelah Valley Chewelah WA
Sojourner’s Alliance Moscow ID
Spirit Lake Food Bank Spirit Lake ID
Spokane Valley Partners Spokane WA
United Community Action Network Grants Pass OR
Valley Food Pantry Valley WA
Washington Gorge Action Programs Bingen WA
Washington State 4H Foundation Puyallup WA
West Bonner County Food Bank Priest River ID
Cheney Food Bank Cheney WA
Odessa Food Bank Odessa WA
Rathdrum Community Food Bank Rathdrum ID
Warden Food Pantry Warden WA

* Distributor for donations to outlying food pantries