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.

Join the Webinar on AGA’s “Your Energy Campaign”

AGA launched the Your Energy campaign in 2017 to help provide a platform for the millions of people who use natural gas to speak up about the benefits that natural gas offers our environment and their way of life.

This week, we have the AGA’s Jennifer O’Shea on hand to discuss the campaign, and tell us more about the campaign’s objectives and reach, and plans for the future.

More information can be accessed at www.yourenergy.com.

Jennifer O’Shea is the Vice President of Communications for the American Gas Association’s (AGA). In this role, O’Shea develops and implements communications strategies to promote natural gas and its applications to key stakeholders including media, industry leaders, Members of Congress and consumers.

What:    April Webinar: Your Energy Campaign
Where:  Online Only
When:    Thursday, April 19th
Register: Click here to Register

15th Annual Energy Conference Registration is OPEN!

The Northwest Gas Association and Alliance of Western Energy Consumers’ invite you to join us at the 15th Annual Energy Conference. The conference consistently brings together a diverse and unique audience to discuss the critical role of natural gas as an energy, economic and environmental solution for our region.

Come away with a deeper understanding of the political and social environment that shapes policies for a cleaner future, and why natural gas is the natural solution for the region’s energy future.

The robust program includes:

Regional Economic Outlook
Grant Forsyth, Ph.D., Chief Economist, Avista Corporation

Natural Gas Market Fundamentals
Josh McCall, Fundamental Analytics Director, BP

Overview of Western Region Electricity Markets
Calpine Energy Solutions

AGA and ICF Electrification
Chris McGill, AGA

Lunch Keynote: CEO Perspective on the Future of Natural Gas
David Anderson, President & CEO, NW Natural

Hot Topics: Cybersecurity & Federal Regulatory Updates
Mona Tandon and Gwen Keyes Fleming, Van Ness Feldman LLP

For more information on the conference click here, or click the events tab above.

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.

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.