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Surviving Ice Storms with Natural Gas

Just three weeks ago in February, Oregon’s Willamette Valley was pummeled by a 50-year ice storm.  Hundreds of thousands of homes lost electricity, as well as phone, cable, and cell service – and many neighborhoods went 10 days or more without electric service. It is important to remember what an electrified home loses without electricity: heat (no baseboard heat, no heat pump), no stove or oven for cooking, no appliances (most importantly, no coffeemaker), no lights, and no hot water. But there were no natural gas interruptions during this time. Homes with natural gas could still use their gas fireplaces for heat, their gas stoves to cook, and had hot water from their gas water heaters (think hot showers in a cold house). Why is this? The natural gas system is inherently reliable AND resilient.

It’s important to understand the difference between resilience and reliability. The terms are often referenced together or even used interchangeably, but they are very different. As described in a recent report by the American Gas Foundation, “resilience is defined as a system’s ability to prevent, withstand, adapt to, and quickly recover from a high-impact, low-likelihood event such as a major disruption in a transmission pipeline. In comparison, reliability refers to a systems’ ability to maintain energy delivery under standard operating conditions, such as the standard fluctuations in demand and supply.” So, when we are discussing how the natural gas system performs during a severe ice storm, we are discussing resilience.

The natural gas industry’s resilience can be tested by its ability to prepare for and adapt to changing conditions and withstand and recover rapidly from disruptions, as well as withstand and recover from deliberate attacks, accidents, or naturally occurring threats or incidents.

Ultimately, the greatest test of resilience is whether a utility’s commitments to customers can be met regardless of the degree of stress that is caused by a weather event.

Despite some of nature’s harshest conditions, during the Oregon Ice Storm of 2021, the natural gas industry passed this test with flying colors, proving both exceedingly reliable and resilient.

Resilience was demonstrated through the continued service and availability of natural gas despite threatening weather and outages on the electric grid.

It is exactly this resilience that makes natural gas the perfect complement to electricity in providing warmth and light to homes and businesses in the Pacific Northwest.  And gas is a natural part of the region’s move to decarbonize, providing stability, reliability, and resilience.

NWGA Releases Natural Gas Facts Booklet

Natural Gas Facts

This booklet provides an overview of natural gas and the myriad of benefits that this domestic, clean, safe, low-cost and reliable energy source offers the Pacific Northwest consumers. 3.2 million regional natural gas users are enjoying its economic and environmental advantages, but expanding the use and applications of natural gas will help provide an economically feasible, cleaner environment for future generations.

To download and read more, click here.

Welcome to the Northwest Salish Orca and LNG as a marine fuel!

salish-orca

This is a picture of the first liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueled marine vessel to operate in the Northwest, Salish Orca. Salish Orca left its shipyard in Gdansk, Poland last November and arrived in British Columbia (BC) last week after a 50-day, 10,440-nautical-mile journey. Salish Orca will go into operation later this spring after inspections and training are complete.

Salish Orca is the first of three liquefied natural gas (LNG) Salish class vessels that BC Ferries is adding to its fleet. Its sister ships, Salish Eagle and Salish Raven, are expected to arrive in BC this spring and go into service later in 2017. BC Ferries has also commissioned the retrofit of its two largest vessels, the Spirit of Vancouver and the Spirit of British Columbia, to run on both LNG and diesel.

“This is a very exciting day for all of us at BC Ferries, as we proudly welcome this beautiful ship, Salish Orca, home to British Columba and into our fleet,” says Mike Corrigan, BC Ferries’ president and CEO. “The Salish Class vessels will provide us cost savings and efficiencies, with standardized vessels and greater interoperability, as well as enhanced safety, well into the future. They are very well-built ships, which will serve our customers for many years to come.”

According to BC Ferries, using natural gas as the primary fuel source is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by approximately 15% to 25%, reduce sulphur oxides by over 85%, reduce nitrogen oxides by over 50%, and nearly eliminate particulate matter.

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.

2013 Gas Outlook

Regionally, the demand growth projections in this 2013 Outlook remain modest across most sectors reflecting expected economic conditions (see 2013 Regional Economic Outlook). Gas use for generating electricity shows the most significant growth in the forecast period. Meanwhile, Northwest consumers are benefitting as regional gas distribution companies (LDCs) pass the lower cost of natural gas through to customers.