Climate Action in the Northwest

Natural gas warms us when it’s chilly out. It quickly and efficiently heats water after a hot shower. Memories are made at backyard bar-b-ques over a gas grill with family and friends.

In addition to delivering warmth and comfort, natural gas helps us address critical issues like climate change. Northwest Gas Association members (NWGA) are committed to addressing climate change and maintain that natural gas is a climate solution.

States and provinces across the Pacific Northwest are currently crafting climate action policies to address climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). Natural gas – a clean, low-cost and abundant energy resource – is already reducing GHGs in our region and across North America.

Regional climate action policy proposals include a tax (WA) or a cap (OR) on carbon emissions. A tax is relatively straightforward to administer. British Columbia has a carbon tax that’s been in place for several years. The theory is that increasing the cost of consuming or producing something will result in less of it being consumed or produced. However, emission reductions are not guaranteed in a carbon tax scheme, though higher energy costs are. Click here to see how a carbon tax at certain levels might affect an average consumer’s bill.

An emissions cap, on the other hand, mandates a certain level of emissions but can be complex to administer. California has an emissions cap in place, though it has not yet been fully implemented. While an emissions cap specifically limits the amount of carbon that can be emitted, the costs of compliance are uncertain until they’ve been incurred.

The NWGA maintains that the following are vital attributes to include in a climate action policy. It must:

  • Accommodate the ongoing need of NWGA members to invest in and maintain system safety and reliability;
  • Preserve customer energy choice and affordability for families and the businesses that employ them;
  • Acknowledge and accommodate the regulatory obligation of utilities to serve customer demand for natural gas;
  • Be transparent, predictable and easily understood by the ultimate consumer; and
  • Be consistent from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

To see NWGA’s full Climate Action Policies click here.

Keeping warm and safe in the Pacific Northwest

Last year at this time, the Pacific Northwest was experiencing its coldest winter in 24 years; this year the East coast is experiencing the cold “bomb cyclone.” Luckily, we can observe from our warm, safe homes. Safety is the top priority of your natural gas company, and like the tango, it takes a partner to be safe. You are our safety partner.

As your partner, we want to give you the facts on carbon monoxide (CO) and prepare you should you ever experience a CO incident. Fact: CO is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas that is produced by burning wood, propane, charcoal, natural gas or by letting a gasoline engine or generator run in an enclosed space.

Fact: CO poisoning is caused by improperly ventilated appliances or engines. The enclosed space may allow carbon monoxide to accumulate to dangerous levels. That’s why you should never operate a gas or briquette grill, a generator or propane heater indoors.

Fact: Warning signs are similar to having the flu, such as dull headaches, weakness, dizziness, confusion, drowsiness, nausea, and vomiting. A clue would be if more than one person is becoming ill at the same time since the flu takes a few days to be passed from one to another. If symptoms begin in one space and go away soon after leaving the area, that may be carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prevention: Install a carbon monoxide detector according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Keep vents and chimneys open when burning, and make sure they are properly vented, especially if you have had any construction or roofing done. Start your car only after you open the garage door and move into the driveway before closing the door.

Prevention: Just like with your fire alarm, you need to make sure things are maintained and ready to serve you. Once a year, maybe when you replace the batteries in the fire alarm, ask your utility about getting a check-up on all your fuel-burning appliances. Keep your fireplace in good repair and get the flue cleaned once a year.

Action: If you suspect carbon monoxide poisoning, remove everyone including pets from the area and head to fresh air immediately. Contact your gas utility, call 911 and wait for clearance before entering your home.

What’s going on with natural gas research and technology development?

The Department of Energy is committing $30 million to the research and development of domestic unconventional oil and gas, both onshore and offshore resources. DOE has selected six projects they believe will improve processes in resource development while advancing technology and engineering practices. Objectives of the research include minimizing environmental impact and risk while building domestic supplies to enhance U.S. energy dominance and security.  To read the full press release, click here.

Meanwhile, engineers are researching technology at The Ohio State University that may have the potential to produce electricity without emitting CO2 into the atmosphere.

The technology is called chemical looping, which utilizes produced CO2, metal oxide particles and high pressure to burn biomass and fossil fuels without oxygen. To read the full article click here. To learn about this process in-depth, click here.

Natural Gas Transportation

Utilizing a fuel that is widely available and reliably used by millions of consumers across our continent, natural gas for transportation (NGT) is a significant untapped opportunity for vehicle operators seeking to reduce pollution, lower costs and play a role in North American energy independence.

Transportation is the largest source of GHGs in the Pacific Northwest, producing almost 40 percent of the total. Moreover, diesel pollution – composed primarily of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx) – is a particular problem that affects the most vulnerable among us including children, the elderly and infirm.

Natural gas vehicles (NGVs) are much cleaner emissions profiles than diesel vehicles and the technology already exists to deploy them now to help reduce harmful emissions from the heavy-duty vehicles we need for shipping (including trucks, marine vehicles, and train engines), garbage collection, public transit and school buses.

Want to know more? Click here for the Natural Gas Transportation Emission Brief or download the NWGA Gas Outlook to continue reading more.

GUEST BLOG: Coming Solar Eclipse Further Proves that Renewables Need Natural Gas

Anti-fossil fuel activists like 350.org’s Bill McKibben often pretend the United States can run on 100 percent renewable energy without the use of any traditional fuel sources. McKibben recently wrote in Rolling Stone that “the sundown problem is being solved fast, as batteries are able to store the energy from the morning sun and the wind from a gusty evening to keep the power running overnight.”

McKibben’s claims simply aren’t true though, and preparations for next week’s total solar eclipse illustrate this cold, hard fact.

Because storage technology to allow for solar power to stand alone — even during a brief loss of sunlight — doesn’t currently exist, the solar industry has been actively preparing for how to mitigate the issue in places like sunny California where that industry thrives. The solution? Natural gas.

The Power of Natural Gas in the War on Carbon Emissions

The world will benefit from reduced carbon emissions as developing and industrial countries reduce their dependence on coal and oil by gaining access to ample North American natural-gas supplies.

Natural gas has been a boon for our pocket books, the environment and our way of life. Unfortunately, it gets a bad rap from Vlad Gutman-Britten (No Washington state subsidies for fossil-fuel plants, July 16, 2017). Let’s set the record straight.

Innovative practices and technology enhancements have unlocked vast reserves of North American natural gas and oil that were previously inaccessible. Scarce and costly just ten years ago, natural gas is now abundant and inexpensive.

NWGA Releases Natural Gas Facts Booklet

Natural Gas Facts

This booklet provides an overview of natural gas and the myriad of benefits that this domestic, clean, safe, low-cost and reliable energy source offers the Pacific Northwest consumers. 3.2 million regional natural gas users are enjoying its economic and environmental advantages, but expanding the use and applications of natural gas will help provide an economically feasible, cleaner environment for future generations.

To download and read more, click here.

2017 Annual Energy Conference – Wrap Up

Would you please give us your feedback to help us plan next year’s event. Please take about 5 minutes to complete the survey by clicking or typing this link:

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/AEC17

Presentations are available to you, once the survey has been summited.

All surveys completed by June 16 will be entered into a drawing to win one of two Amazon gift cards. Again, thank you for attending this year’s Annual Energy Conference and we hope you will join us  June 6-7, 2018!

Natural Gas Facts

Natural Gas Facts

This booklet provides an overview of natural gas and the myriad of benefits that this domestic, clean, safe, low-cost and reliable energy source offers the Pacific Northwest consumers. 3.2 million regional natural gas users are enjoying its economic and environmental advantages, but expanding the use and applications of natural gas will help provide an economically feasible, cleaner environment for future generations.

To download and read more, click here.

Natural Gas Vehicles’ Emissions Data and Comparisons

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from medium and large trucks and buses are crucial to cleaning up the Pacific Northwest’ s air quality and helping states and provinces meet GHG goals for the transportation sector. When targeting emission reductions in this sector, it is important to fully understand the differences between alternative fuel technologies – including their availability, emissions reduction capabilities, and cost – and how those technologies can help the state reach its goals.

In this fact sheet, we address how Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) are well positioned to cost-effectively reduce GHG emissions compared to their diesel and electric counterparts. Read the fact sheet here NGV Emissions Data and Comparisons.

Natural Gas Vehicles’ Emissions Data and Comparisons

Reducing greenhouse gas (GHG), nitrogen oxides (NOx) and particulate matter (PM) emissions from medium and large trucks and buses is crucial to cleaning up the Pacific Northwest’ s air quality and helping states and provinces meet GHG goals for the transportation sector. When targeting emission reductions in this sector, it is important to fully understand the differences between alternative fuel technologies – including their availability, emissions reduction capabilities, and cost – and how those technologies can help the state reach its goals.

In this fact sheet, we address how Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) are well positioned to cost-effectively reduce GHG emissions compared to their diesel and electric counterparts. Read the fact sheet here NGV Emissions Data and Comparisons.

Welcome to the Northwest Salish Orca and LNG as a marine fuel!

salish-orca

This is a picture of the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled marine vessel to operate in the Northwest, Salish Orca. Salish Orca left its shipyard in Gdansk, Poland last November and arrived in British Columbia (BC) last week after a 50-day, 10,440-nautical-mile journey. Salish Orca will go into operation later this spring after inspections and training are complete.

Salish Orca is the first of three liquefied natural gas (LNG) Salish class vessels that BC Ferries is adding to its fleet. Its sister ships, Salish Eagle and Salish Raven, are expected to arrive in BC this spring and go into service later in 2017. BC Ferries has also commissioned the retrofit of its two largest vessels, the Spirit of Vancouver and the Spirit of British Columbia, to run on both LNG and diesel.

“This is a very exciting day for all of us at BC Ferries, as we proudly welcome this beautiful ship, Salish Orca, home to British Columba and into our fleet,” says Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ president and CEO. “The Salish Class vessels will provide us cost savings and efficiencies, with standardized vessels and greater interoperability, as well as enhanced safety, well into the future. They are very well-built ships, which will serve our customers for many years to come.”

According to BC Ferries, using natural gas as the primary fuel source is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 15% to 25%, reduce sulphur oxides by over 85%, reduce nitrogen oxides by over 50%, and nearly eliminate particulate matter.

Natural Gas is Critical in the Energy Future

Jim Piro, President and CEO of Portland General Electric (PGE) was recently interviewed by the Portland Business Journal about the significant transition underway in the energy landscape. The key takeaway is that PGE is carefully and deliberately moving through it. Mr. Piro wants PGE to learn from others, not pioneer new, unproven resources and regulatory regimes. Mr. Piro also reaffirmed the critical role that natural gas must play in PGE’s generation portfolio to ensure that customers always have electricity when they need it:

 “[I]f the wind doesn’t blow for a day or so batteries can’t help you through that. Gas is needed to bridge that difference… If the lights don’t go on, customers aren’t going to worry about whether the gas is in the ground or not in the ground; they’re going to wonder why [PGE] didn’t meet their needs.”

 Not everyone is happy with PGE’s approach as indicated in a guest editorial by the Sierra Club and other Oregon environmental organizations recently published in the Oregonian. Unfortunately, the authors of the opinion piece use inflammatory language and outdated information to support their case. Their claim about “notoriously volatile” natural gas prices caught our eye and we’d like to set the record straight.

According to the to U.S Energy Information Administration (EIA) natural gas prices were relatively stable from 1981 to 2000, averaging $3.95/Dekatherm (Dth) when adjusted for inflation ($2015). Gas prices during the first decade of the 21st century were indeed volatile as North America struggled to produce enough natural gas to meet growing demand. From 2001 to 2010 natural gas averaged $6.61/Dth and experienced significant volatility associated with cold and hot weather, and hurricanes that disrupted conventional supply resources.onemoretime

 All that changed with the advent of shale gas which began to come online in 2007 and reached game-changing status around 2010. The average price of natural gas from 2011 to 2015 was $3.57/Dth. In 2015, natural gas averaged $2.62/Dth. The future looks equally stable. EIA projects that natural gas prices will rise to $5/Dth ($2015) and remain there as production technologies become more efficient, quicker to come on line and better for the environment. This is a dramatic change from its 2008 price forecast.

Natural gas is an abundant, cleaner, affordable energy resource. As Mr. Piro notes, it is a vital part of enabling more renewable resources in our region and elsewhere. Without natural gas, our power supply will become less reliable and more expensive. Those are the facts.

Natural Gas Supplies in the Pacific Northwest

Pacific Northwest natural gas customers benefit from their proximity to the prolific Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin (WCSB) and U.S. Rocky Mountain (Rockies) natural gas-producing regions.

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