NWGA member Puget Sound Energy Announces Net-zero Carbon Emissions Goal, Including Natural Gas Sold to Customers, by 2045

NWGA member company Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has announced their goal and plan to reduce its carbon equivalent emissions to zero and to ultimately go beyond net-zero carbon by working with customers and communities to reduce their carbon impacts as well.

“We will work with our customers, as well as our lawmakers and regulators, to push a path forward, based on data and facts, which will drive significant and meaningful change,” said Mary Kipp, PSE’s President, and CEO. Click here to read PSE’s media release.

This announcement is part of PSE’s ongoing effort to address climate change, which has included investing billions of dollars in renewable resources and energy efficiency for homes and businesses. PSE also reaffirmed its commitment to delivering on the objectives of Washington’s Clean Energy Transformation Act (CETA). Click here to view an outline of PSE’s commitments and goals to reach Beyond Net Zero Carbon by 2045.

Regarding natural gas, PSE’s goal is to reach net-zero carbon emissions for natural gas sales — customer use in homes and businesses — by 2045 with an interim target of a 30% emissions reduction by 2030.

Achieving cost-effective carbon emission reductions across sectors and the region will require strong partnerships between PSE, its customers, policymakers, and industry. “There are numerous areas where PSE will lead but equally as many that need outside support – from stakeholders and our customers to enablers like policy and regulatory changes,” said Ms. Kipp.

Click here to access a whitepaper that describes in-depth the details of PSE’s “Beyond Net Zero Carbon Pledge.”

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.

June 7 -8, 2017: 14th Annual Energy Conference

  • Annual Energy Conference
    June 7, 2017 - June 8, 2017
    11:00 am - 4:30 pm
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Washington State Regulators Approve Pipeline Replacement Plans

OLYMPIA, Wash. – State regulators have approved plans by the state’s four investor-owned natural gas companies to modernize and update portions of their pipeline delivery systems, replacing hundreds of miles of older pipes with state-of-the-art plastic pipe.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) last year directed the companies to survey their pipeline infrastructure and propose plans to replace pipeline with “elevated risk.” As incentive for such pipeline replacement, the UTC policy permitted the gas companies to recover costs each year, rather than waiting for a future formal rate proceeding.

“Pipeline safety is an ongoing concern, and one should never be complacent,” said UTC Chairman Dave Danner. “But these plans demonstrate that Washington’s gas utilities are committed to the safety of our state’s pipeline infrastructure. Unlike many states, we have almost none of the more dangerous cast iron pipeline that has failed in other parts of the country, and utilities all have sound plans going forward to replace some plastic pipe that has shown a tendency toward minor cracking.”

The four natural gas companies are Avista, Puget Sound Energy (PSE), Cascade Natural Gas Corp. and Northwest Natural Gas Co. The utilities serve about 1.2 million natural gas customers in Washington.

In their plans, the companies identified the pipe targeted for replacement and described how the company assessed risk and established its replacement priorities. The plans also included a schedule for determining the location of elevated-risk pipe. The plans must be updated every two years.

• Avista’s system has some older polyethylene pipe installed prior to the 1970s. Over the next two years, Avista will replace 60 miles of pipe in unincorporated Spokane County. The company has already completed replacement of plastic pipe in Davenport and Odessa.

The Spokane-based company has about 3,400 miles of natural gas pipeline in the state, and serves some 150,000 natural gas customers, primarily in Eastern Washington.

• PSE also has some older polyethylene pipe in its service territory, 400 miles of which it will upgrade over the next 20 years. In the next two years, it will upgrade 60 miles of pipe located in scattered areas from Marysville to Olympia.

In addition, the company will replace the last remaining18 miles of bare steel pipe. The company has already replaced some 200 miles of such pipe in Seattle and Tacoma over the last decade.

PSE’s miles of natural-gas distribution system in Washington includes more than 12,000 miles of pipeline. The Bellevue-based company supplies natural gas to 783,659 customers in King, Kittitas, Lewis, Pierce, Snohomish and Thurston counties.

• Cascade Natural Gas will replace 62 miles of bare steel pipeline in Longview, Shelton and Anacortes, a third of it by 2015. The Kennewick-based company has almost 4,500 miles of natural gas pipelines in its distribution network in the state.

The company serves almost 200,000 customers in 65 communities throughout the state, including Bellingham, Bremerton, Mount Vernon, Aberdeen, Longview, Moses Lake, Kennewick, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.

• Northwest Natural Gas has scheduled all bare steel pipe to be replaced by the end of next year. The Portland-based company has about 1,700 miles of natural gas pipeline in Washington, serving about 72,000 residential and commercial customers in Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties.

Currently, each gas company regulated by the commission recovers costs through periodic general rate cases, which can take up to 11 months. The commission created a special cost-recovery mechanism for the gas companies to replace high-risk pipe while allowing a faster recovery of the investment in new pipe in customer rates.

In 2011, the federal government adopted a new program that required natural gas distribution companies to develop procedures to ensure the safety and reliability of the pipeline delivery system. The new regulations require operators to identify those conditions, characteristics or threats that cause leaks in order to make their systems more reliable and safe.

Established by the Legislature in 1955, the UTC’s Pipeline Safety Program regulates the safety practices of 31 pipeline companies and conducts safety inspections on more than 24,000 miles of natural gas and hazardous-liquid pipelines in Washington.


NW Natural President & CEO Gregg S. Kantor Elected 2014 AGA Chairman

Washington, D.C. – The American Gas Association (AGA) has announced that Gregg S. Kantor has been elected to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors for 2014. Mr. Kantor is President and CEO of NW Natural, and was elected alongside several other officers during AGA’s Annual Corporate Meeting on Kiawah Island, S.C.

“With nearly two decades of leadership experience in the natural gas industry, Gregg’s commitment to his community and his background in environmental and urban planning make him uniquely suited to guide our organization as we continue to advance the role of natural gas in our nation’s clean and secure energy future,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “Gregg understands the need to engage all stakeholders and bring people together to foster a dialogue about how we can deliver solutions for our economy and our environment.”

NW Natural, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, provides natural gas service to approximately 689,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers in Oregon and Southwest Washington. It is the largest independent natural gas utility in the Pacific Northwest.

Mr. Kantor became President and CEO of NW Natural in 2009, having joined the company in 1996 as Director of Public Affairs and Communications and serving subsequently as Senior Vice President of Public and Regulatory Affairs from 2003-2006, Executive Vice President from 2006-2007 and President and COO from 2007-2008.

Mr. Kantor has been a board member of the American Gas Association since 2009. He is also on the boards of the Oregon Business Council, Greater Portland Inc., the Portland Business Alliance, and co-chairs the Cradle to Career Council of All Hands Raised. Mr. Kantor holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of California at Santa Barbara, and a master’s degree in Urban Planning from the University of Oregon.

AGA’s other board officers for 2014 will be: First Vice Chairman Terry D. McCallister, Chairman & CEO, WGL Holdings, Inc. (Washington, D.C.); Second Vice Chairman Ralph A. LaRossa, President & COO, Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (Newark, N.J.); Dave McCurdy, President & CEO, AGA, and Immediate Past Chairman Ronald W. Jibson, Chairman, President & CEO, Questar Corp. (Salt Lake City, Utah).

AGA Board of Directors Elected

The following executives will serve on the AGA Board of Directors in 2014. An asterisk (*) indicates newly elected directors. Their names, titles, companies and corporate headquarters follow (NWGA Members in bold):

William J. Akley                      SVP, Maintenance & Construction, National Grid (Brooklyn, NY)

Robert F. Beard                       President & CEO, UGI Utilities, Inc. (Reading, PA)

Lonnie E. Bellar                      VP, Gas Distribution, LG&E-KU, PPL Companies (Louisville, KY)

Doyle N. Beneby                     President & CEO, CPS Energy (San Antonio, TX)

Lawrence T. Borgard               President & COO, Utilities, Integrys Energy Group (Green Bay, WI)

Carl L. Chapman                     Chairman, President & CEO, Vectren Corp. (Evansville, IN)

Kim R. Cocklin                        President & CEO, Atmos Energy Corp. (Dallas, TX)

Kenneth W. DeFontes, Jr.        President & CEO, Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (Baltimore, MD)

Laurence M. Downes               Chairman & CEO, New Jersey Resources (Wall, NJ)

David R. Emery                       Chairman, President & CEO, Black Hills Corp. (Rapid City, SD)

William J. Fehrman                  President & CEO, MidAmerican Energy Co. (Des Moines, IA)

Kimberly J. Harris                   President & CEO, Puget Sound Energy (Bellevue, WA)

Glenn R. Jennings                    Chairman, President & CEO, Delta Natural Gas Co., Inc. (Winchester, KY)

Christopher P. Johns                President, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (San Francisco, CA)

Kent T. Larson                         SVP, Operations, Xcel Energy Inc. (Minneapolis, MN)

James P. Laurito                      President, Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. (Poughkeepsie, NY)*

John McAvoy                          President & CEO (effective 1/1/2014), Consolidated Edison, Inc. (New York, NY)*

David M. McClanahan             President & CEO, CenterPoint Energy (Houston, TX)

James T. McManus, II             Chairman & CEO, Energen Corp. (Birmingham, AL)

Michael P. McMasters              President & CEO, Chesapeake Utilities Corp. (Dover, DE)*

Scott Miller                              Vice President & General Manager, Dominion East Ohio (Cleveland, OH)

K. Frank Morehouse                President & CEO, MDU Utilities Group (Bismarck, ND)

Scott L. Morris                         Chairman, President & CEO, Avista Corp. (Spokane, WA)

Jerry Norcia                             President & COO, DTE Gas Co., DTE Energy (Detroit, MI)

Pierce H. Norton, II                 EVP, Commercial, ONEOK, Inc. (Tulsa, OK)

Morgan K. O’Brien                  President & CEO, Peoples Natural Gas Co. LLC (Pittsburgh, PA)

Ian Robertson                          CEO, Algonquin Power & Utilities Corp. (Oakville, ON)*

John G. Russell                        President & CEO, CMS Energy Corp. (Jackson, MI)

Jeffrey W. Shaw                      President & CEO, Southwest Gas Corp. (Las Vegas, NV)

Suzanne Sitherwood                President & CEO, The Laclede Group, Inc. (St. Louis, MO)

Robert C. Skaggs, Jr.                President & CEO, NiSource Inc. (Merrillville, IN)

Thomas E. Skains                    Chairman, President & CEO, Piedmont Natural Gas Co., Inc. (Charlotte, NC)

Anne Shen Smith                     Chairman & CEO, Southern California Gas Co. (Los Angeles, CA)

David F. Smith                         Executive Chairman, National Fuel Gas Co. (Williamsville, NY)

John W. Somerhalder II           Chairman, President & CEO, AGL Resources (Atlanta, GA)

James P. Torgerson                  President & CEO, UIL Holdings (New Haven, CT)

Non-voting Advisory Directors:

Julie A. Dill                             President & CEO, Spectra Energy Partners and Group Vice President, Strategy Spectra Energy (Houston, TX)

Gordon L. Gillette                    President, Tampa Electric Co. & Peoples Gas (Tampa, FL)

Patricia L. Kampling                Chairman, President & CEO, Alliant Energy (Madison, WI)

Rodney O. Powell                    President & COO, Yankee Gas (Berlin, CT)

Craig E. White                         President & CEO, Philadelphia Gas Works (Philadelphia, PA)

How are NWGA Members Spreading the Word About Natural Gas?

We’re bombarded with a staggering amount of information every day, so what’s a natural gas utility to do in order to get their message out? NWGA members are producing some eye (or nose?) catching material to let customers know about the importance of natural gas safety and the many ways we use gas in our everyday lives.

First up, Puget Sound Energy is rolling out a scratch and sniff bill insert with an interesting aroma:

It’s a trip to the mailbox that could have heads turning. Billing statements from Puget Sound Energy arriving at more than 1.5 million homes and businesses now through October include a scratch and sniff pamphlet to remind customers of the smell that’s used to help identify natural gas leaks.

Meanwhile, NW Natural has rolled out a couple of new print ads this week, one pair with their recent TV ad, “Imagine.”

Blue_2_4.75x7.5_color copy

NW Natural’s other print ad also refers back to a TV commercial, a favorite of mine, “Little Leaks.”  Both versions emphasize the importance of doing something if you happen to notice that rotten egg smell, sensing a theme here? To sweeten the deal, NW Natural has rolled out a Twitter contest asking participants to name the ad’s characters (limited to folks within their service territory).

SafetyPrint_final copy

That wraps up our rundown, is your utility doing something innovative to keep you up to date on what they’re up to?


Natural Gas Term of the Week: Combination Utility

 What it means: Utility which supplies more than one utility service, such as gas and electricity.

See it in action: Three of the NWGA’s 10 members are combination utilities, serving both natural gas and electric customers; Avista Utilities, based in Spokane, Washington, Puget Sound Energy, based in Bellevue, Washington and FortisBC, based in Vancouver BC.

Combination utilities don’t always provide both of their services to customers in the same area, or even in the same states.  Puget Sound Energy’s service area encompasses a large portion of Northwestern Washington with significant portions devoted to both gas and electric service and other areas providing only one or the other.  Avista provides both gas and electric service to much of Eastern Washington and Western Idaho but also supplies natural gas to a large section of Southern Oregon and portions of the Columbia Gorge. FortisBC provides gas service to the Vancouver metro area and portion of inland BC while their power operations are focused along the Canada-U.S. border in the central portion of the province.

Natural Gas Terms of the Week are posted each Monday, check back weekly to boost your natural gas IQ.

Follow the NWGA on Twitter: @Ben_at_NWGA

Puget Sound Energy sends 24 natural gas service employees to New York to help restore heat to victims of Superstorm Sandy

BELLEVUE, WA.– Two dozen Puget Sound Energy natural gas employees today headed to New York to help restore heat for customers on Long Island, where overnight temperatures this week are expected to dip into the 20s.

PSE employees will work with National Grid to replace natural gas meter sets damaged nearly five weeks ago by Superstorm Sandy; they will also  inspect and relight equipment and appliances inside homes and businesses.

PSE’s team of 21 technicians and three supervisors will work for 2½ weeks and return home the weekend before Christmas. They will join natural gas crews from other utilities around the country.

PSE received the mutual aid request from the Northeast Gas Association to help restore natural gas service for the storm-damaged communities on Long Island.

“Every member of our PSE team is sacrificing more than two weeks with their families to get the heat back on in time for the holidays for so many people who were affected by the devastation of Sandy,” said Sue McLain, PSE senior vice president of delivery operations. “When a disaster like Superstorm Sandy strikes, utilities help out each other to restore service to their customers. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the storm.”

PSE sent the employee team to New York after evaluating and confirming that it has an adequate number of responders and customer service technicians to respond to routine natural gas-service calls and emergency situations in Snohomish, King, Pierce, Thurston, Lewis and Kittitas counties.

Lower natural gas rates for almost 2 million Washington customers

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Almost 2 million natural gas customers in Washington can expect to see lower heating bills this winter due to a decrease in wholesale natural gas costs.

The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) today approved requests by the state’s four investor-owned natural gas companies to reduce rates for customers beginning Nov. 1.

Natural gas companies in Washington are required to adjust rates periodically to reflect changes in wholesale prices. More than half to about two-thirds of a customer’s monthly bill is attributable to the cost of natural gas on which the company is not allowed to earn a profit. The remaining 45 percent covers the cost of delivering the natural gas.

Puget Sound Energy’s average Western Washington residential natural gas customer using 68 therms a month will realize a drop of 7.1 percent, or $5.82, to $76.59.

Cascade Natural Gas Co.’s average residential customer will see a reduction of almost 6.5 percent. For a customer who uses 57 therms the savings will be about $4 a month.

Avista’s typical Eastern Washington residential customer using 68 therms will see a drop of 4.3 percent, or $2.58 a month, for a revised bill of $58.18.

The average residential customer of southwest Washington’s Northwest Natural Gas Co. (NWNG) using 55 therms will see a savings of about 7.7 percent, or $4.82 a month.

The rates could be subject to further revision. Commission staff will be reviewing the wholesale costs and purchasing and hedging practices of all four natural gas companies in Washington to ensure that they are appropriate in current market conditions.

The commission decision made today on Avista’s natural gas rate request is separate from the general rate case filed by the company in April. The UTC is expected to make a final decision in that proceeding next March.

The utilities distribute natural gas to customers but do not produce their own fuel. About half of Washington’s natural gas supplies come from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia and the other half from Rocky Mountain production sites such as Wyoming.

Bellevue-based Puget Sound Energy serves more than 785,000 natural gas customers in parts of Snohomish, King, Pierce, Lewis, Thurston and Kittitas counties.

Kennewick-based Cascade Natural Gas Corp. serves about 195,000 residential and business customers in 65 communities throughout the state, including Bellingham, Bremerton, Mount Vernon, Aberdeen, Longview, Moses Lake, Kennewick, Walla Walla, Wenatchee and Yakima.

Spokane-based Avista serves more than 149,000 natural gas customers, primarily in Eastern Washington.

Headquartered in Portland, Ore., NWNG serves 70,746 residential and business customers in Clark, Skamania and Klickitat counties in Washington state.

The three-member commission is the state agency in charge of regulating the private, investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in Washington. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit.


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