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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.

Low Natural Gas Prices Helping to Keep Customers Connected

Washington, D.C. – In cities and towns across the country, Americans are saving money and enjoying a better quality of life thanks to the nation’s abundant supply of clean, domestic natural gas delivered by local natural gas utilities. This year, according to a survey of American Gas Association member companies, the number of customers disconnected from their utility service fell by more than eight percent, indicating that the low price of natural gas is allowing more people to access the energy they need. Additionally, the total amount owed by natural gas customers fell by nearly 15 percent.

“Natural gas plays a key role in rebuilding our nation’s economy by saving money for homes and businesses and keeping our most vulnerable citizens from having to go without essential energy,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “The low price of natural gas also creates jobs, is boosting the manufacturing and chemical industries and is a driver for infrastructure expansion while offering tremendous value to the 177 million Americans who use it every day.”

Prices for natural gas this winter were nearly two percent lower compared to the year before, according to the Energy Information Administration, but the improvement in disconnect rates can also be attributed to the combination of an improving economy and assistance from federal, state and utility energy efficiency programs that all helped more households stay current on their bills.

Low domestic prices of natural gas have led to savings of almost $35 billion for residential natural gas customers over the past three years. Households that use natural gas appliances for heating, water heating, cooking and clothes drying spend an average of $654 less per year than homes using electricity for those applications. These savings are achieved not just through the comparatively low price point of natural gas, but also due to the efficiency of the delivery network operated by natural gas utilities. The direct use of natural gas maintains about 92 percent of its usable energy from production to the customer.

Natural gas utilities are committed to helping customers achieve even greater energy savings by investing heavily in energy efficiency programs. In 2011, natural gas utilities created total savings of more than $300 million for customers – about $107 per household – and offset 6.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide.

Still, the need for fuel assistance in this country remains great, and many customers struggle to make ends meet. The latest U.S. Census data shows that the poverty rate in 2012 was 15 percent – meaning about 46.5 million Americans lived in poverty. While overall disconnects are down, the number of customers who are at least 30 days late in paying their utility bills stayed stable compared to last year and accounts for more than 18 percent of customers. The Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is an essential federal program that can help ensure no Americans go without heat in winter or air conditioning in summer. To date, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved $3.61 billion for LIHEAP in FY 2014. The House Appropriations Committee, however, has yet to set FY 2014 LIHEAP funding levels. While recognizing that Congress faces difficult decisions given the current fiscal climate, AGA continues to call for action ensuring responsible funding levels for LIHEAP. Greater certainty for overall LIHEAP funding and distribution timing is crucial to ensuring that states can plan budgets and receive funds necessary to provide assistance to Americans in need.

Report – Natural Gas Utilities Continue To Modernize Pipeline Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. –America’s natural gas utilities are dedicated to upgrading and modernizing our nation’s natural gas infrastructure, as well as to increasing expertise in maintaining existing pipelines and assessing and managing risk. Their dedicated efforts over the past three decades have led to a nearly 90 percent decline in serious pipeline incidents and will help ensure that the industry’s longstanding record of safe and reliable service continues well into the future, according to a new report by the American Gas Association and its member companies.

Using a strategic and systematic risk management program formalized in 2011 by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), natural gas utilities employ a careful analysis of infrastructure to identify threats, evaluate and prioritize risks, measure results, monitor performance and take action to help reduce the greatest risks. Not all pipeline risk is necessarily related to age or material, and older pipe can still perform reliably; therefore pipeline should not be replaced solely to reduce the amount of a specific material when greater risk may lie elsewhere.

In the past decade, natural gas utilities have installed updated plastic lines at a rate of 30,000 miles per year, connecting new customers or replacing older pipeline infrastructure. Thanks to these efforts, there are nearly 1.3 million miles of plastic pipe – the leading edge of advanced pipeline materials – in the natural gas system today, along with more than 1.1 million miles of cathodically-protected steel pipeline. There has been a 46 percent decrease in the amount of cast iron main since 1985, and only 3 percent of the entire national gas distribution system is composed of cast iron mains – a figure that is continuously being reduced as pipeline operators implement accelerated pipeline replacement programs. And serious incidents involving cast iron mains have also declined – dropping by a difference of 86 percent between 1985 and 2012.

“Safety is the top priority for the American Gas Association and its more than 200 member companies,” said AGA CEO and President Dave McCurdy. “Our nation’s natural gas infrastructure makes up the safest energy delivery system in the country and is the envy of other nations. This report shows the industry is successfully working to enhance system integrity though upgrades and modernization. As a result, Americans can continue to enjoy the benefits of our abundant supply of clean affordable natural gas for decades to come.”

By managing pipeline risk and replacing pipe no longer fit for service, as well as conducting other improvements, the industry is also reducing emissions from the natural gas distribution system. Improved data from the Environmental Protection Agency and others shows a declining trend for natural gas emissions. Less than 1.5 percent of natural gas is emitted as it travels from where it is produced to homes and businesses. Of that, only 0.3 percent is emitted from systems operated by local natural gas utilities. Distribution system emissions have dropped 16 percent since 1990, even as the industry added nearly 300,000 miles of distribution mains to serve 17 million more customers – an increase of 30 percent in both cases. Continued efforts to upgrade and modernize the natural gas pipeline network to enhance safety are lowering emissions even further. Pipeline replacement is resource-intensive, making it vital for natural gas utilities to have strategic “smart modernization” plans for managing replacement costs through careful planning and operational efficiency. Additionally, natural gas utilities must overcome significant challenges associated with this type of work, such as maintaining gas delivery to customers and working to minimize the impact to the public right of way and customer yards.

With natural gas prices at historic lows, America’s natural gas utilities are using this opportunity to advance upgrades to their energy delivery system, and they are working with local regulators to develop innovative rate models that further encourage the significant capital investment needed without increasing the burden on ratepayers. The natural gas industry spends over $7 billion each year in infrastructure investments. Currently, 32 states have infrastructure cost recovery mechanisms including 4 states which have adopted programs in the last 6 months.

U.S. Domestic Natural Gas Resources at Record Levels

Washington, DC – The American Gas Association (AGA), in coordination with the Potential Gas Committee (PGC), today released the PGC’s year-end 2012 biennial report: Potential Supply of Natural Gas in the United States. The new assessment finds that the United States possesses a technically recoverable natural gas resource potential of 2,384 trillion cubic feet (Tcf). This is the highest resource evaluation in the PGC’s 48 year history—exceeding by 486 Tcf the previous record-high assessment from year-end 2010.

“This ground up, science-based assessment emphasizes our nation’s robust supply of natural gas, and confirms that we can continue to rely on abundant, clean natural gas for our future energy needs,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA. “By investing in our energy future and harnessing the promises of this resource, we can look forward to decades of market stability – and that’s great news for our customers.”

The future supply of domestic natural gas continues to grow due to the emergence and advancement of key technologies that are able to unlock gas production from reservoirs such as shale formations. For the next decade and beyond, domestic natural gas supplies are expected to be high enough to support an increase in demand across all sectors – unlocking the door for expansion in residential, business, transportation and commercial and industrial applications.

When the PGC’s results are combined with the U.S. Department of Energy’s latest available determination of proved dry-gas reserves — 304.6 Tcf as of year-end 2010 — the United States has a total available future supply of 2,688.5 Tcf, an increase of 486.1 Tcf over the previous evaluation.

The PGC’s year-end 2012 assessment of 2,384 Tcf includes 2,226 Tcf of gas attributable to “traditional” reservoirs (conventional, tight sands and carbonates, and shales) and 158 Tcf in coalbed reservoirs.

“The PGC’s year-end 2012 assessment reaffirms the committee’s conviction that abundant, recoverable natural gas resources exist within our borders, both onshore and offshore, and in all types of reservoirs—from conventional, ‘tight’ and shales, to coals,” said Dr. John B. Curtis, professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at the Colorado School of Mines and Director of its Potential Gas Agency, which provides guidance and technical assistance to the Potential Gas Committee.

“Every day, America’s natural gas utilities deliver clean, domestic natural gas to more than 65 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers,” said McCurdy. “Natural gas can help improve our economy, national security and the environment – and this assessment shows we have the necessary resource abundance to help make those goals a reality for our nation. We appreciate and welcome the fact-based, time-tested objective work that the PGC and its members have put into developing this valuable report.”

American Gas Association Releases 2013 AGA Playbook

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today released the 2013 Playbook, the essential handbook for natural gas information. The 2013 Playbook includes up-to-date facts about natural gas, including information about pipeline safety, supply, responsible resource development and energy efficiency.

“Thanks to an unprecedented abundance of domestic natural gas, this affordable resource is changing the energy industry and our nation’s economy. It is no surprise that there is a lot of attention focused on this clean, domestic, abundant foundation fuel,” said Dave McCurdy, president and CEO of AGA. “We update the Playbook each year because it is imperative we provide the facts and help inform policy makers, media and the public about the realities of natural gas. The 2013 AGA Playbook will help make sure people have access to a current, fact-based narrative about the natural gas industry.”

The 2013 Playbook covers the history of natural gas, the challenges and opportunities of the natural gas industry, and the priority issues and strategies with respect to the production, transmission, distribution and use of America’s clean and domestically abundant energy source. It also contains information about innovation and direct economic benefits including industry-related jobs.

McCurdy continued, “AGA’s Playbook outlines how natural gas can deliver on the promises of helping increase our energy security, improve our environment and boost our economy. America’s natural gas utilities are delivering these promises today, and increased use of this foundation fuel can help address many of the energy challenges facing our nation.”

The 2013 Playbook can be accessed online. If you are interested in hard copies, please contact Sherri Hamm at shamm@aga.org or 202-824-7201.

NPC Study Emphasizes Significant Opportunities for Natural Gas Vehicles

Washington, D.C. – Developing the market for natural gas vehicles enhances our energy security, our competitiveness, and encourages the expansion of transportation fueling infrastructure and technologic advances. The American Gas Association (AGA) today applauded the release of the National Petroleum Council (NPC) study, Advanced Technology for America’s Transportation Future, which discusses the opportunities and challenges facing future use of natural gas as a transportation fuel. The study’s findings demonstrate a viable spot for both light and heavy-duty natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in both retail and fleet markets.

“NGVs are a proven way to improve air quality, while reducing the United States’ dependence on foreign oil, and we are pleased to see the NPC highlight the many benefits this fuel can bring to the transportation sector,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “The economics are in favor of NGVs, and we should take advantage of the opportunities that exist to help meet America’s transportation needs today.”

In the coming days, the Obama Administration will make a final ruling on fuel economy and greenhouse gas regulations that will guide automakers’ product plans until the middle of the next decade. McCurdy was president and CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and was instrumental in developing the historic agreement to increased mandatory fuel economy to 35.5 miles per gallon for cars and light-duty trucks by model year 2016 and created a blueprint for bringing together government and industry for a common purpose.

The NPC study highlights several factors that demonstrate the positive role natural gas can have in the future. “The potential for a long-term and low-cost domestic supply of natural gas, supported by significant economically recoverable shale gas resources, presents an opportunity for the increased use of natural gas as a transportation fuel, replacing some part of the current requirements for oil in transportation: gasoline in light duty applications and diesel fuel in heavy duty vehicle,” it states.

The study says that conditions already exist that will help ensure that NGVs can be an important part of America’s transportation future. Citing the Energy Information Administration (EIA)’s Annual Energy Outlook 2010, which estimated technically recoverable shale gas resources at 368 trillion cubic feet, it explains, “If this expansion in reserve base evidenced in recent years continues to result in sustainable long term and stable price advantages relative to petroleum fuels, there are economic incentives for increased use of natural gas in the transportation sector. The natural gas fuel price differential advantage over gasoline and diesel is already significant. The EIA suggests that this gap between gasoline/diesel and natural gas may widen further through 2035.”

The low price of natural gas compared to gasoline or diesel can in itself drive greater use of this alternative fuel. With fuel costs making up 40 percent of the total costs of class 8 combination trucks such as tractor trailers and dump trucks, the savings from switching to natural gas are substantial and can offset the initial cost hurdle of a natural gas engine within just a few years of operation.

For more information or to access the study, visit the National Petroleum website.