Happy Thanksgiving!

November 15: 2018 NWGA Outlook Update

Dan Kirschner, NWGA Executive Director, will present the updates to the 2018 Outlook Study on the November 15 webinar.

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 Plan that our members are required to file with utility commissions.

To register, click here.

October 18 Webinar: Natural Gas for Transporation

The October webinar focuses on natural gas for transportation.  Transportation is a leading source of climate change and air quality pollutants. Introducing cleaner medium and heavy-duty vehicles to the transportation sector offers the best path towards a cleaner future. Natural gas vehicles, especially those powered by renewable natural gas, is ready to step up and usher us into that future.

Did you know that “99% of the environmental benefit of switching from diesel city buses to electric vehicles can be achieved for a fraction of the cost by switching instead to natural gas vehicles powered by RNG.”

Join us by registering here.

Natural Gas Fleets 101

Natural Gas Fleets 101

Natural gas industry leaders invite you to attend a luncheon on September 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. with presentations on the benefits of using natural gas for fleets.

Interested in natural gas vehicles and fleets? The NW Alliance for Clean Transportation will present the basics in the natural gas vehicles 101. Curious about how natural gas can improve your fleets? Trillium will dispel the myths around natural gas vehicles and give insight on how natural gas can benefit your fleets. Do you want to understand the basics of renewable natural gas (RNG) and how it will benefit your fleets? Join us for lunch and come away with a better understanding of how compressed natural gas and renewable natural gas work and can improve your fleet. Register here by August 29.

More information on the sponsors can be found at the following websites NW Alliance of Clean Transportation, Trillium and Columbia-Willamette Clean Cities.

Do I Really Need to Call 811 Before I Dig?

YES!! …even if it is just a small flower bed? Yes…what about just installing a post? Yes…what if I hire a landscaper or contractor to do the work? Yes, discuss it and make sure that 811 is called, even if you have to do it yourself.

Why bother, it will slow my project down? Digging without knowing the approximate location of underground utilities can result in damage to natural gas, electric, communications, water, and sewer lines, which can lead to service disruptions, serious injuries, and costly repairs. An underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, according to data collected by Common Ground Alliance (CGA). The CGA is dedicated to protecting underground utility lines and the safety of people who dig near them, collects information from utility owners throughout the United States to measure the scope of damages nationwide.

Call before you dig, it so important it is a federal law to call 811 at least two business days before digging.

Every time you dig follow these steps:

  1. Notify – call 811.
  2. Wait – utilities will be marked out in 2-3 days.
  3. Confirm -that all affected utility operators have responded to your request by comparing the marks to the list of utilities the one-call center notified. If they are, dig safely if they are not, call again.
  4. Respect the marks -State laws generally prohibit the use of mechanized equipment within 18-24 inches of a marked utility, which is called the “tolerance zone” (click here for information from your state).
  5. Dig Safely – Avoid digging near the marks (within 18-24 inches on all sides, depending on state law), consider moving your project to another part of your yard.

Making a call to 811 is the easiest way to make sure you keep your communities safe and connected.  Data shows that when you call 811 the appropriate amount of time before digging, you have a less than 1% chance of striking a buried utility line.

Portland needs cleaner transit, but electrification isn’t the answer

Guest Opinion in the July 13, 2018, Oregonian 

Jessica Vega Pederson is right: it is time for Tri-Met to continue its tradition as a leader in our community by eliminating their diesel fleet (“Portland needs TriMet to prioritize electric buses,” July 4). Unfortunately, she and many others get it wrong on how to get it done. Relying on overpriced and underperforming electric bus technology will only set us back in our goal of eliminating harmful diesel emissions. We should refocus on natural gas-powered buses, and explore operating those buses on recovered methane — called ‘renewable natural gas’ — from Portland’s wastewater treatment facility (“Portland plans to turn ‘poop to power,” April 20).

There is no way around it: Oregon has a diesel problem. Transportation is Oregon’s largest source of greenhouse gas emission. Diesel-powered trucks and buses make up a third of the on-road transportation emissions. Not only do these emissions harm our region’s climate goals, but they are toxic pollutants that cause smog, acid rain, and many dangerous health conditions. We are all affected by diesel pollution, but especially the most vulnerable populations of children, elderly and the sick.

The best place to start in solving this problem is by replacing the 700 diesel buses that zigzag through the heart of our metro area. The conversation is already occurring, but it has largely focused on one limiting question: How soon can we electrify the bus fleet?

Los Angeles Metro was faced with this same problem. The LA Basin in the ’90s had some of the worst air quality problems in the world, and their 2,500-diesel bus fleet was a large contributor. Their solution: move to near-zero emission natural gas engines fueled by renewable natural gas, which offers up to 115 percent reductions of greenhouse gas emissions and 99.9 percent air quality pollutant reductions. Their fleet is no longer a significant polluter, and they have saved their customers money on fuel and maintenance costs at the same time. This is a home run, and Portland should take note.

The time to act is now. Every day we wait for electric bus technology to be ready is a day that we make our air quality problems worse. Natural gas buses are proven, affordable and ready to tackle our air quality and climate issues today.

Connor Reiten
Director of Policy and Operations
NW Alliance for Clean Transporation


2018 Annual Energy Conference Presentations

Thank you to all the attendees of the 15th Annual Energy Conference. The surveys we received back will be useful in preparing for next year’s conference. Presentations from this year are available under the energy conference tab or you may click here.

A final thanks to all this year’s sponsors: Platinum sponsors: IGI Resources/BP and Calpine Energy Solutions. Gold sponsors: United Energy Trading, LLC. and Van Ness Feldman, LLP. Silver sponsors: Cost Management Services, Inc., Jordan Cove LNG, PGE, Shell Energy North America, and Stoel Rives, LLP. Bronze sponsors: Black & Veatch, Brubaker & Associates Inc., Cable Huston, LLP, Creative Lighting, Davison Van Cleve, Energy Strategies, NIPPC, and PacifiCorp. Promotional Partners: Oregon Business and Industry (OBI), Colorado Oil & Gas Association, Energy News Data, and the NW Environmental Business Council.

IGI REources/BP  and Calpine Energy Solutions have already secured platinum sponsorships for 2019 Annual Energy Conference. If you are interested in securing your sponsorship for next year, click here to fill out and return your commitment form.


Welcome Northwest Alliance for Clean Transportation

The NW Alliance for Clean Transportation became official with its launch on Tuesday, April 17. The Alliance, which is supported by the Northwest Gas Association, is an advocacy group that aims to bring more awareness to the role that natural gas vehicles have in a clean energy future.

The transportation sector accounts for nearly half of the emissions in the Pacific Northwest. Of those emissions, an outsized share goes to medium and heavy-duty on-road trucking. These emissions are responsible for a myriad of health impacts including an increase in asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

Fortunately, there is good news: natural gas vehicles are a ready-made solution that is capable of nearly eliminating these air pollutants, can provide the power necessary to haul heavy loads long distances, is cost-effective and is a proven technology.

Additionally, replacing dirty diesel engines with clean burning ultra-low-NOx natural gas vehicles provides a greater demand and market for renewable natural gas. Renewable natural gas, or RNG, is gas that has been recovered from a source that is otherwise considered a waste stream. This includes garbage landfills, wastewater treatment facilities, dairies, or other methane emitting sources. Collecting the methane emissions from these sources and repurposing it as a transportation fuel is by far the most environmentally friendly option for transportation, and renewable natural gas is perfectly compatible with current natural gas engines.

Please visit www.nwalliance.net to learn more about the new organization and get involved.

NWGA RNG Incentives Become Law in Washington State

On Thursday, March 22, Governor Jay Inslee signed into law a bill that will encourage the increased production of renewable natural gas (RNG) as an energy source for Washington State. HB 2580 passed the Legislature just hours before the end of legislative session on March 8th. Nearly unanimous legislative backing for the bill signals strong interest in and support for further development and adoption of this renewable energy resource.

“As we transition to a clean-energy future, this [bill] will help us promote production of renewable natural gas from landfills, wastewater treatment plants, food processing, and agriculture, while also helping create jobs and promote rural economic development across our state,” said Governor Inslee as he signed the bill.

“What could be better than turning waste into useful energy?” asked Dan Kirschner, Executive Director of the NWGA. “It reminds me of the Mr. Fusion Home Energy Reactor in the movie Back to the Future.”

The effective date for the new law is July 1, 2018. It encourages the expansion RNG production through the use of tax incentives and a suite of other tools including an inventory of potential RNG supply and associated costs; voluntary gas quality standards for injecting RNG into the natural gas system, and additional policy recommendations to promote RNG development.

Gov. Inslee signs Engrossed Substitute House Bill No. 2580, March 22, 2018. Relating to promoting renewable natural gas.
Primary Sponsor: Jeff Morris

“By supporting renewable natural gas project development, Washington’s leaders are supporting the creation of clean energy sector jobs, improved air quality and public health,” said Johannes Escudero, CEO of the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas (RNG Coalition). “Methane mitigation, carbon sequestration and decarbonization of our existing natural gas infrastructure occur with each new RNG project.”

Bill Edmonds, Director of Environmental Management and Sustainability at NW Natural said, “ This bill is an important step to better understanding the potential for RNG in the region. While we still need to address some of the barriers to greater RNG natural gas deployment, the tax incentives are a solid step in the right direction.”

“The Northwest Gas Association (NWGA) thanks, Governor Inslee for seeking this important measure, and Rep. Jeff Morris for being its champion through the legislative process,” said Kirschner.

Click here to read the NWGA’s Media Release regarding the bill signing. Click here to read the media release from the Coalition for Renewable Natural Gas.

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.

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