It has turned out to be a hot summer on the West Coast. In California, we’ve seen 3 million people lose power with rolling blackouts because the state didn’t have enough reliable energy available to fill the void when renewable energy production there fell off a cliff.
My heart goes out to those caught up in the blackouts. It’s a reminder to those of us in the Northwest, that we need to maintain a diverse energy system that uses all sources of energy for optimum reliability.
Natural gas is a critical part of that system. It is the cleanest fossil fuel and provides reliable and affordable energy whenever it’s needed. It is uniquely capable of generating electricity to power your air conditioner when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining. And if the power is out, natural gas can be used to cook or heat water for your shower or laundry.
Not only does natural gas contribute to a clean energy future by supporting intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar energy, but it is becoming increasingly renewable itself.
Renewable natural gas (RNG) is methane produced when materials like wood, food, and other organic waste decompose. Instead of being released directly into the atmosphere the gas is captured and converted into a clean energy source. RNG is being advanced through partnerships with foresters, farmers, and local governments and Northwest utilities are bringing more of it into their energy mix.
For reliability and renewability, natural gas and renewable natural gas are sources of energy that are vital to the future and enjoy broad support. According to a recent poll, more than 70% of Pacific Northwesterners don’t want natural gas to be banned. They understand the need for reliable, affordable energy to address climate change.
We have to work together to achieve a sustainable energy future. Natural gas and renewable natural gas aren’t the only answer, but they are an essential part of the picture. It’s up to all of us to keep the momentum going so that no one has to endure blackouts tomorrow.
The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest
Natural gas is a crucial part of the Pacific Northwest’s energy mix providing heat and power to 10 million people and more than 300,000 businesses across the region. The direct use of natural gas for cooking, heating, and producing a variety of goods (e.g. toilet paper, cement, steel, glass, french fries, etc.) helps reduce global and regional emissions paving the way to a cleaner environment for future generations. In order improve the public’s understanding of the vital role of natural gas, the NWGA will produce a series of blogs to help readers understand how the natural gas industry works, how it differs from other energy sources, and how one size fits all policies affect energy choice and affordability for the region’s residents and the businesses many of them work for.
What does natural gas offer to the region?
- Warmth and comfort to 10 million people
- Efficient and affordable space heating, water heating, and heat for cooking and laundry (gas heat is about one-third the cost of electric heat in the Northwest)
- More than half of the total energy consumed in the region – either used directly for space and water heat or in industrial processes or as gas-generated electricity. (Excludes transportation uses.)
- A low carbon footprint – natural gas used for space and water heat in 3.2 million homes and more than 300,000 non-industrial businesses accounts for less than 10 percent of the region’s total carbon emissions, according to EIA data and state and provincial emissions inventories
- 128,000 miles of installed pipeline infrastructure that safely and reliably delivers energy, supplemented by underground and above-ground storage facilities capable of delivering up to 40 percent of required energy during the coldest days
- An invaluable input to some industrial processes for which there is no suitable substitute, including glass recycling and the manufacture of perlite (a common soil additive), steel and aluminum, paper products and food processing, among many others
- An alternate fuel source for medium and heavy-duty vehicles is both more economical and cleaner than diesel engines.
- Reliable 24/7 electricity production to replace retired coal plant generation and balance the region’s growing sources of intermittent renewable power, such as wind and solar
And our source of natural gas is increasingly renewable itself – market forces and government policy are driving the development of renewable natural gas, which transforms human and agricultural waste into useful energy. This provides even greater prospects for a cleaner mix of natural gas resources to contribute to our energy and environmental future.
Let’s start with some basics: where do we get our natural gas in the Pacific Northwest?
The Pacific Northwest’s natural gas comes from supply basins in Northern British Columbia and Alberta, Wyoming and Western Colorado, and Northwest New Mexico (the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin, the Rocky Mountain Basin, and the San Juan Basin respectively). British Columbia and Alberta provide two-thirds of the region’s natural gas and Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico supply the remaining one-third. This gas is moved to British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho by a network of inter-connected interstate pipelines.
The ability to draw gas supply from three areas provides consumers in the Pacific Northwest stability in pricing and reliability. For instance, a rupture in the Enbridge pipeline in British Columbia in 2018 impacted the ability to move Canadian gas south to the U.S., raising the price of Canadian gas. To compensate, Northwest gas utilities and gas shippers drew more from the San Juan Basin in New Mexico, which is very low-cost gas, thereby reducing the potential price impacts to consumers while the Enbridge pipeline was repaired and returned to service.
The inter-connected gas system in the Pacific Northwest also means the security of supply in the future. While U.S. Rocky Mountain and San Juan production is forecast to remain relatively flat through 2040, production in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin is projected to grow. This dynamic will help ensure continued access to a reliable and low-cost energy source.
BC Drives Projected 35% WCSB Production Growth from 2020-2040
Notes: WCSB production is forecast to decline for a few years, before growing to 21 Bcf/day by 2040 to meet expected rising demand for LNG exports. Most of that growth will come from the Montney formation that spans BC and Alberta.
Rocky Mountain Production Predicted to Remain Flat
Notes: As shown, Rockies’ production is generally flat through 2040. The San Juan Basin in northwest New Mexico is located below the Piceance play shown in the map above and is the southern terminus of the Williams NW Pipeline that serves the Pacific Northwest.
Compared to some areas of the United States and many countries, the Pacific Northwest is fortunate to have large nearby supply basins and a developed pipeline infrastructure to deliver gas safely and efficiently, and which can react to supply disruptions.
In our next segment, we’ll examine gas prices.
According to a Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association survey, 73 percent of Americans will spend their Fourth of July holiday cooking outdoors. And natural gas is by far the most popular type of grill with 64 percent saying that’s their preference over charcoal or electric. Grilling is simply synonymous with the holiday.
Whether you’re planning a backyard barbeque for two or 20, Americans celebrate our country’s birthday by coming together as family, friends, and neighbors over a deliciously grilled meal and fireworks overhead. After prepping those burgers, hot dogs, chicken, salmon, oysters, and veggies, with the touch of a button, your gas grill is ready, and the clean-burning natural gas means less smoke dampening the mood.
In the beautiful Pacific Northwest, summer is the best time for sitting comfortably with friends or family in the backyard on a cool evening, with a warm fire and dinner sizzling on the grill — it’s pure pleasure.
Please stay safe this Fourth of July and enjoy that natural gas grill all summer long. Here are some helpful grilling tips:
- Place your grill at least 10 feet away from other objects, including the house, combustibles, and any shrubs or bushes.
- Always stay by the grill when cooking.
- Trim excess fat from meat and poultry to reduce grill flare-ups.
- Use the appropriate temperature to cook food, using lower temperatures for smaller items or larger cuts of meat that will take a long time.
- Place veggies on the edges of the grill to prevent overcooking.
- Before lighting the grill, apply non-stick spray on the grates for easy cleanup.
Share your favorite grilling recipes by tagging @pepnorthwest and use the hashtags #GrillingWithGas and #CookingOutdoors.
By Scott Ongley, President of Northwest Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association
Americans are seeing firsthand the critical role that energy plays in meeting their daily needs and how the natural gas industry is #FuelingOurCommunities. The industry keeps delivering essential energy to the homes that have become offices, schools, and gyms, and the manufacturing facilities that continue to produce food, supplies, and personal protective equipment. It continues to fuel the frontline facilities where healthcare professionals are fighting COVID-19 every day. Providing affordable energy will boost an economic recovery that we all hope is on the horizon.
April heralds the advent of spring, including warmer weather and sunshine in the Pacific Northwest. Spring means more construction as well as tending to and planting gardens and other vegetation. Both activities involve digging.
That is why April is National Safe Digging Month. Before digging a hole more than 12 inches deep for any purpose, it is critical to “know what’s below”. Here is a guest blog from NW Natural that includes a terrific checklist to use before digging, whether you are a contractor or a homeowner. Most importantly, always call 811 before you dig.
DIGGING SAFELY THIS SPRING MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
News Release from NW Natural
Posted on FlashAlert: April 15th, 2020 9:48 AM
With more people at home doing yard projects, NW Natural reminds customers and contractors to call before digging
PORTLAND, Ore. — April marks National Safe Digging Month, a time to remember to call 811 to have underground utility lines located before digging in your yard, garden and beyond. This spring, that reminder is even more important with so many people in the Northwest staying home to stay healthy and potentially doing more yardwork than normal.
“If you or a contractor will be digging in your yard, make sure you call 811 at least two days ahead of time. Locate crews are still working during this time and abiding by all COVID-19 safety recommendations,” said Scott Gallegos, NW Natural’s damage prevention supervisor. “It’s a free service, and it’s the law.”
Nationally, the most common cause of a natural gas pipeline damage is someone accidentally digging into the pipe. Accidentally hitting an underground utility line can interrupt service to entire neighborhoods and lead to serious injuries, fines and costly repairs.
A helpful checklist to get started:
- Regardless of digging depth or familiarity with the property, make your request at least two business days before you plan to dig.
- Call 811 or use the free NW Natural Safety App.
- When you call 811, the Oregon Utility Notification Center notifies local utility companies of the intent to dig. Then a professional locator visits the site to mark the location of underground utility lines. The OUNC says the contractors who come out to mark buried lines will follow COVID-19 health safety precautions.
- Confirm with 811 that all lines have been marked.
- Consider moving your project location if it’s near utility line markings.
- If working with a contractor, confirm a call to 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if lines aren’t marked.
If while you’re digging, you accidentally hit a gas line, report it immediately by calling 911 or NW Natural’s 24-hour emergency line at 800-882-3377. No damage is too small to report, even a small dent could weaken a natural gas line.
Always remember: Smell. Go. Let us know. If you smell natural gas, leave the area immediately, then call us at 800-882-3377 and we will come over to check things out. During COVID-19, NW Natural’s crews are following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines regarding social distancing, face covering and sanitizing protocols.
For more information, visit https://www.nwnatural.com/Residential/Safety/811CallBeforeYouDig.
On April 16, Dan Kirschner will present the 2020 Gas Outlook on a live webinar. Register now by clicking here.
The Outlook continues to include current data and narrative on supply and prices, but more as background information because North American natural gas is projected to be an ample, low-priced commodity for the foreseeable future. However, the true value of the Outlook – aggregating and analyzing regional demand and delivery infrastructure data to inform policymakers and other stakeholders throughout the Northwest – remains the report’s core focus. Updated numbers and our forecast are presented in the Demand section and an expanded Capacity section, and in the appendices. We’ve also added two deeper dive articles exploring renewable natural gases and upstream methane emissions. The 2020 Gas Outlook is now available by clicking here.
The NWGA and AWEC have postponed the 17th Annual Energy Conference to November 4-5, 2020 at the Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, WA. Originally scheduled for June 3-4, we made the difficult decision to postpone the event due to the Coronavirus pandemic. If you previously made a reservation at the Skamania Lodge it has been canceled. We will notify you when you are able to reserve a room in the new room block. *** Note: Skamania Lodge is closed for the next 60 days. ***
We remain grateful to all of our sponsors for their continued support of the Annual Energy Conference, including our dedicated Platinum sponsors BP/IGI Resources and Calpine Energy Solutions; gold sponsor United Energy Trading, LLC; silver sponsors Cost Management Services, Davison Van Cleve, NIPPC, Stoel Rives, and bronze sponsor Cable Huston. If you are interested in joining our sponsors, click here to find out more.
The American Gas Association recently announced a partnership with Food Network star Amber Kelley to highlight natural gas as the tool of choice for chefs everywhere.
The simple turn of a knob on a gas range gives chefs the control they need to make anything they can imagine. There is no other technology that allows the control and high heat content that natural gas offers, and chefs around the world rely on our resource as a critical tool in the cooking craft.
The value of natural gas does not stop in professional kitchens. Homeowners across the world prefer natural gas as their go-to cooking resource. Aside from providing a superior cooking experience, a study by Market Strategies International showed that 90% of homebuyers say they’d pay $50,000 more for a home with natural gas appliances.
Sixteen-year-old Amber Kelley is a cookbook author, speaker, winner of Food Network Star Kids, and the host of her popular Youtube series Cook With Amber. From her appearances on The Disney Channel, E!, and the Today Show, to her endorsement from Jamie Oliver, Amber is inspiring a whole new generation of eaters to get in the kitchen and have fun. We are excited to hear from Amber on how natural gas supports her budding cooking career.
President Obama’s Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, makes the case in the recent study“Pathways for Deep Decarbonization in California: Summary for Policymakers.”
“Clean fuels (e.g., renewable natural gas [RNG], hydrogen, biofuels) are critical clean energy pathways due to the enormous value of fuels in providing flexibility and reliability for energy systems. Fuels that are durable, storable, and easily transportable play a fundamental role in ensuring that all sectors can operate at the scale, timing, frequency, and levels of reliability that are required to meet social, economic, and stakeholder needs.
“The development of RNG in California has multiple tangible benefits: RNG is a carbon-neutral fuel; RNG diverts methane from being released into the atmosphere, enabling major emissions reductions from the difficult-to-decarbonize Industry and Agriculture sectors; and it leverages existing carbon infrastructure, potentially avoiding the costly stranding of these established systems and their associated workforces, as well as their time-consuming and costly replacement.”
This blog was posted with express permission from Jon Switalski. For more information on how you can help, please contact C4BES Executive Director Jon Switalski at (310) 625-4072 or email@example.com. To learn more about C4BES click here. To learn more renewable natural gas in the Pacific Northwest click here.
Thank you for those who attended the 2019 Annual Energy Conference. Please take the survey located here to weigh in; your feedback helps shape future conferences. This year we had 178 attendees and a great speaker line up. We would like to thank our platinum sponsors, IGI Resources/BP, and Calpine Energy Solutions, gold sponsor United Energy Trading LLC, silver sponsors Cable Huston, CMS, Davison Van Cleve, NW Innovation Works, PacifiCorp, Rosen, Shell, and Stoel Rives, and Bronze sponsors Black & Veatch, PGE, Jordan Cover LNG, and NIPPC for their continued support of the event.
If you are interested in attending the 2020 Annual Energy Conference mark your calendar for June 3-4, 2020. If you are interested in sponsoring the conference, let us know.
On April 11 a much-anticipated report was released by The Energy Futures Initiative that analyzes the ways California can meet its aggressive low-carbon energy goals. The report, which was authored by a team led by President Obama’s former Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest J. Moniz, outlines an innovation agenda needed for deep decarbonization by 2050
The current HB 2020 proposal gives free credits to Oregon’s electric utilities in recognition of prior legislatively mandated green initiatives. It treats the more than two million Oregon residents and businesses who rely on natural gas for warmth, comfort and productive energy differently, ignoring the strides that Oregon LDCs and their customers have made in reducing emissions through system maintenance, modernization, and efficiency initiatives.
HB 2020 as currently composed is punitive to Oregon’s natural gas customers and unfair. The state is already seeing emissions reductions from the transition to and increasing reliance on natural gas as a cleaner, reliable fuel for generating electricity. The state is also seeing significant emissions-related benefits by virtue of the highly efficient direct use of natural gas for residential and commercial space and water heat. All natural gas utility customers should receive a fair share of allowances to mitigate rate impacts.
To download the NWGA Cap and Trade Fact Sheet, click here.
NWGA’s Climate Action Principles
Climate change is an important issue. States and provinces across the Pacific Northwest are developing 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 across North America and the region. In short, Northwest Gas Association members (NWGA) are committed to addressing climate change and maintain that natural gas is a climate solution.
To download the NWGA Policy Principles for Climate Action, click here.
NWGA’s 2018 Gas Outlook
To view the appendices click here and to watch the webinar presentation for the 2018 Gas Outlook Study, go to the Northwest Gas Association’s YouTube channel by clicking here or click the video link below.
In this study, we examine several dynamics affecting Pacific Northwest natural gas consumers. The Outlook relies primarily on external, publicly available resources for information on natural gas supply prospects and commodity prices. Regional demand and capacity data are drawn from NWGA member company planning processes, including the Integrated Resource Plans that our members are required to file with utility commissions.
The study provides a consensus industry perspective on the current and projected natural gas supply, prices, demand and delivery capabilities in the Pacific Northwest through the 2027/28 heating year (Nov–Oct). For purposes of this report, the Pacific Northwest includes British Columbia (BC), Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.
Research by E3 Takes In-Depth Look at Decarbonization with Focus on Coldest Days
PORTLAND, Ore., Dec. 04, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — A new study commissioned by NW Natural and conducted by independent consulting firm, Energy and Environmental Economics (E3), shows natural gas plays a pivotal role in helping the region meet dramatic emission reduction goals most affordably and reliably.
To date, all “deep decarbonization” studies agree that getting to an 80% carbon reduction goal by 2050 will be challenging and must involve using energy more efficiently, ramping up renewable resources, electrifying passenger vehicles, and aggressively developing biofuels, including renewable natural gas. But this is the first time a closer look has been taken at how energy needs can be met to serve homes and businesses on the coldest winter days in the Pacific Northwest.
The new research shows that by adding 25% renewable natural gas (RNG) into the existing natural gas system and delivering it to heat homes directly (versus using it to generate electricity), the region can achieve its climate goals without a substantial build-out of new power plants. A report released in September by the Oregon Department of Energy shows the total amount of RNG that can be produced from the state’s waste streams, (including wastewater, landfills, animal, food and wood waste), far exceeds that amount.
“Renewable natural gas takes waste streams that produce emissions and puts them to use as clean energy, dramatically reducing greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change,” said David H. Anderson, president and CEO of NW Natural. “The good news is that we already have plans in place to put RNG into our pipeline system, which is one of the most modern in the nation.”
NW Natural hired E3 to conduct an economy-wide deep decarbonization study for Oregon and Washington, based on E3’s experience pioneering this type of work in California and throughout the U.S. A key question addressed in this study is how NW Natural’s system can be used to ensure reliable energy on the coldest winter days while dramatically driving down greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades.
“The natural gas system in the Pacific Northwest delivers more energy than the region’s entire hydroelectric system. It’s a critical asset to lowering emissions and it’s already in place,” added Anderson. “Today, natural gas sales to our residential and commercial customers account for about 5% of Oregon’s emissions. And with the innovations we’re already pursuing, like renewable natural gas, NW Natural is poised to play a vital role in helping the communities we serve meet their climate goals and achieve deep decarbonization.”
More information on the E3 study, “Pacific Northwest Pathways to 2050,” can be found at
https://www.ethree.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/E3_Pacific_Northwest_Pathways_to_2050.pdf. The Oregon Department of Energy 2018 Report to the Legislature, “Biogas and Renewable Natural Gas Inventory SB 334 (2017),” can be found at https://www.oregon.gov/energy/Data-and-Reports/Documents/2018-RNG-Inventory-Report.pdf. Additional information from NW Natural can be found at www.lesswecan.com.
About NW Natural
NW Natural provides natural gas service to approximately two million people in more than 140 communities through 740,000 meters in Oregon and Southwest Washington with one of the most modern pipeline systems in the nation. It consistently leads the industry with high J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction scores.
NW Natural is part of Northwest Natural Holding Company, (NYSE: NWN) (NW Natural Holdings), which is headquartered in Portland, Oregon and owns NW Natural, NW Natural Water Company, and other business interests and activities.
NW Natural is currently constructing a 2.5 Bcf regulated gas storage expansion of its 16 Bcf facility in Oregon to support renewables. NW Natural Holdings’ subsidiaries own and operate 31 Bcf of underground gas storage capacity.
NW Natural Water provides water distribution service to more than 17,000 people through 5,300 meters. To date, NW Natural Water has acquired four water distribution systems with one additional acquisition pending. Cumulatively, the company has committed approximately $67 million in the water and wastewater industry for nearly 16,700 connections in the Pacific Northwest.
Media Contact: Melissa Moore, 503-220-2436, firstname.lastname@example.org
The 20 latest Blog Posts
- Stay Safe – Call before you dig
- NWGA Guest Blog: Renewable Hydrogen Helps Natural Gas Advance Clean Energy in the Pacific Northwest
- The Natural Gas System is Inherently Resilient
- Surviving Ice Storms with Natural Gas
- NWGA’s Policy Principles on Climate Action
- Diverse West Coast Leaders Concerned Over Proposed Gas Bans
- NWGA member Puget Sound Energy Announces Net-zero Carbon Emissions Goal, Including Natural Gas Sold to Customers, by 2045
- The Efficiency of Natural Gas Versus Electricity
- Renewable is Doable
- The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest – Electrification: Climate Panacea or Risky Business?
- Cooking with Gas!
- The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest: Renewable Natural Gas
- The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest: Demand
- The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest: Emissions
- The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest: Prices
- Natural Gas’s Reliability Can’t Be Beat
- The Value of Natural Gas in the Pacific Northwest
- Grilling on the Fourth of July
- Fueling Our Communities
- DIGGING SAFELY THIS SPRING MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER
- 2016 Annual Energy Conference – Post Conference
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