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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 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.

DOE Study: Choosing Natural Gas Appliances Can Double Energy Savings

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) today announced that residential customers could cut their annual heating costs nearly in half by choosing natural gas appliances. These findings come with the release of AGA’s 2014 Representative Average Residential Space Heating and Water Heating Costs analysis, which compare average annual costs for various types of space and water heating appliances. According to estimates, customers can save up to $1,262 on space heating and more than $300 on water heating costs annually by using appliances powered by natural gas instead of other common energy choices. The cost comparisons are based on the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Representative Average Unit Costs of Energy notice as published in the Federal Register on March 18, 2014. After a winter marked by sustained cold and record energy demand, this information can help Americans to better understand how to meet their energy needs.

“These numbers show that natural gas is the clear choice for consumers looking to save on home heating costs,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “Choosing natural gas means you don’t have to choose between your wallet and the environment. This is because the direct use of natural gas in home appliances is the clean, efficient choice, achieving 92 percent energy efficiency and producing nearly 40 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than a home with all-electric appliances.”

America’s natural gas utilities are dedicated to helping their customers achieve even greater savings. In 2012, natural gas utilities spent $1.1 billion on efficiency programs, providing valuable tools, incentives and information to help their customers understand and reduce their energy usage. Many in the nation continue to struggle to pay their energy bills, and these resources, along with assistance to low income customers provided by utilities and government programs such as LIHEAP, are essential to ensuring that no American needs to choose between energy and other basic needs.

A piece of equipment with a higher annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) rating provides greater savings for customers. For example, a 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest cost space heating option for homeowners, followed by an 80 percent AFUE natural gas furnace. Both offer significant annual operating cost savings over comparable space heating options.

The tables below demonstrate estimated cost comparisons for home and water heating devices.

SPACE HEATING ANALYSIS SUMMARY: The space heating analysis is based on a 2,072 square foot house located in St. Louis and represents a 5,000 Heating Degree Day location. The house meets the energy conservation provisions in the 2012 International Residential Code and the space heating equipment is selected from the AHRI online directory. The 97 percent AFUE natural gas furnace provides the lowest annual operating cost followed by the 80 percent AFUE gas furnace.

 

2014 Space Heating Annual Cost Summary

(Annual Operating Cost)

 

Heating Equipment Type 5000 Heating Degree Days
97% AFUE Gas Furnace $544
80% AFUE Gas Furnace $714
7.7 HSPF Electric Heat Pump $1,029
97% AFUE Propane Furnace $1,409
87% AFUE Oil Furnace $1,500
80% AFUE Propane Furnace $1,793
80% AFUE Oil Furnace $1,614
Electric Resistance Furnace $1,806

 

WATER HEATER ANALYSIS SUMMARY: The water heater analysis is based on the equivalent First Hour Rating (FHR), national average energy usage, and the 2014 energy costs as published by DOE. A natural gas 40-gallon and an electric 50-gallon, both conventional storage types, are chosen based on their FHR. The natural gas water heater would provide the lowest annual operating cost.

 

2014 Water Heating Annual Cost Summary

(Annual Operating Cost from Low to High)

Water Heater Type Annual Cost
40 Gallon Natural Gas (FHR = 74 gallons) $275
50 Gallon Electric (FHR = 67 gallons) $576

 

COMBINATION SPACE HEATING AND WATER HEATER INSTALLATION: Based on the annual cost analysis for space heating and water heaters, the combination of a natural gas 97% AFUE furnace and storage water heater provides the lowest operating cost space/water heating package.

 

2014 Space Heating with Water Heater Installations

(Annual Operating Cost from Low to High)

 

Space Heating/ Water Heating Type Annual Cost
Natural Gas: 97% AFUE Furnace & Water Heater $819
Natural Gas: 80% AFUE & Water Heater $989
Electric: Heat Pump & Water Heater $1,605

 

About the American Gas Association

The American Gas Association, founded in 1918, represents more than 200 local energy companies that deliver clean natural gas throughout the United States. There are more than 71 million residential, commercial and industrial natural gas customers in the U.S., of which 92 percent — more than 65 million customers — receive their gas from AGA members. Today, natural gas meets almost one-fourth of the United States’ energy needs.

 

 

DOE Names Bill Drummond As New BPA Administrator

 WASHINGTON – The Energy Department has chosen Bill Drummond to be the new Administrator for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), one of the four Power Marketing Administrations (PMAs) the Department oversees. As BPA’s Administrator, Drummond will be responsible for managing the non-profit federal agency, which markets carbon-free power from Columbia River hydroelectic dams and operates the surrounding power grid, distributing wind, nuclear and other energy to the Pacific Northwest and beyond. Drummond’s leadership of BPA is part of a larger strategy for each of the Department’s PMAs to help lead the 21st century transformation of our nation’s electricity sector. Reliable and affordable electricity is a foundation of economic growth and a resilient electric grid also helps to better protect our national security. Drummond currently serves as BPA’s deputy administrator and has worked in the energy industry for over 30 years.

“The leadership of BPA is critically important because America’s continued global competiveness in the 21st century will be significantly affected by whether we can efficiently produce and distribute electricity to businesses and consumers, seamlessly integrating new technologies and new sources of power,” said Secretary of Energy Steven Chu.  “I look forward to working with Bill Drummond to help lead BPA’s transition to a more flexible, resilient, and reliable electric grid and establish much greater coordination among system operators in partnership with its customers.”

“The Bonneville Power Administration is truly fortunate to have Bill Drummond as its new Administrator to lead the agency,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman. “Drummond has a stellar track record during his time at BPA and throughout his career in the energy sector, and I am fully confident in his ability to provide the highest level of leadership and service to BPA’s customers, constituents, and employees. I also want to thank Administrator Steve Wright for his outstanding leadership of BPA and congratulate him for his achievements over the past twelve years in which he has served as Administrator.”

“Bonneville represents the best expression of public vision and achievement; collaborative relationships, environmental stewardship and a commitment to operational excellence,” said Drummond. “I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to my new role at BPA.”

Drummond began serving as BPA’s deputy administrator in October 2011, which included providing strategic leadership and executive management to the agency. In addition to his responsibilities as deputy, he oversaw the agency’s General Counsel, and Compliance and Governance, Risk Management, Internal Audit, Public Affairs, Finance, and Corporate Strategy functions.

Before joining BPA, Drummond was manager of the Western Montana Electric Generating and Transmission Cooperative in Missoula, Montana, for 17 years. From 1988 to 1994, he led the Public Power Council, an association of all Northwest publicly-owned utilities. During his 30 years in the energy industry, Drummond has been a leader on many regional task forces and committees, including the Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, Northwest Wind Integration Forum and Northwest Energy Efficiency Task Force. Nationally, he has served on committees of the American Public Power Association and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Drummond holds degrees in forestry from the University of Montana and economics from the University of Arizona.

The Energy Department conducted a competitive process under the federal civil service rules to select a new BPA Administrator. BPA has annual revenues exceeding $3.2 billion, over 3,100 full-time employees, and employs approximately 1,500 contractors. Current BPA Administrator Steve Wright announced his plans to retire in June of last year, and Drummond will begin serving as Administrator following Wright’s retirement early next month.

DOE Report Affirms Role of Natural Gas as Foundation Fuel

Washington, D.C. – A recent report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) entitled “Macroeconomic Impacts of LNG Exports from the United States” affirms the position of natural gas as a foundation fuel for the United States and the nation’s energy future. The American Gas Association (AGA) is encouraged to see DOE examining the important role that natural gas will serve in our nation’s energy and economic future. 

“The Department of Energy study acknowledges the tremendous impact our domestic abundance of natural gas is having on energy markets at home and abroad. Natural gas already provides one-fourth of our nation’s energy. With natural gas as a foundation fuel for a clean and secure energy portfolio, we can meet our national goals of boosting our economy, improving our environment and increasing our energy security,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy.

“The report states that our nation’s natural gas resource base is able to satisfy existing and new markets at very competitive prices. DOE analysis indicates that U.S. exports of natural gas would allow for continued stable pricing for the 177 million Americans who depend on the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas every day.”

“We envision a future where natural gas not only provides energy for homes and businesses, but runs a significant number of our vehicles, generates power and supports other forms of renewable energy. America’s natural gas utilities will continue to provide safe and reliable service to our customers today while building the 21st century infrastructure necessary to serve the nation’s energy needs tomorrow. ”