Americans who have natural gas enjoy the benefits of this clean affordable energy source every day, and we know that those who do not have service for their home or business want it. Throughout the country, we see stories about communities and utilities working together to extend natural gas infrastructure to those who do not have access to the benefits of this fuel. Like this one in the Duluth News Tribune.
Minnesota Energy Resources is expanding its natural gas distribution system to provide service to residents of Esko, MN. Approximately 750 customers will be eligible to receive natural gas service from the utility when the projected is complete.
Esko school district Superintendent Aaron Fischer is particularly excited about this development citing the money his school system will save when they switch their boilers that use propane or fuel oil to new boilers that use natural gas. His district did a study that confirmed the move to natural gas would save both money and energy.
These types of conversions are happening across the country. Thirty-nine states have adopted or considered innovative proposals to expand natural gas infrastructure so that more citizens and businesses can access this domestic fuel source, and that number continues to grow. In April, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) established a new Presidential Natural Gas Access and Expansion Task Force charged with developing best practices and recommendations regarding natural gas service for underserved and unserved areas of the country, including, but not limited to rural communities.
Natural gas use has led to $76 billion in savings for American businesses since 2009 and households that use natural gas for heating, cooking and clothes drying save an average of $874 per year compared to homes using electricity for those applications.
More homes and businesses use natural gas today than ever before and that number continues to increase as more communities ask their local leaders and utilities to make natural gas service available to them. There are proven benefits to customers and the economy, and utilities are working every day to bring the benefits of natural gas to more Americans.
On April 25, the Bryce Harlow Foundation bestowed its Business-Government Relations Award upon American Gas Association President and CEO Dave McCurdy. The Business-Government Relations Award is given to a leader in the professional advocacy community in recognition of an exemplary lifelong career in the profession.
Presenting the award was Cal Dooley, President and CEO of the American Chemistry Council who served with Dave in the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Dooley recalled Dave’s leadership in the House and his innovative approach to solving some of our nation’s most vexing problems.
Dave accepted the award paying tribute to his family and those who supported and guided his career when he arrived in Washington, DC thirty years ago as a freshman Representative of the Fourth Congressional District of Oklahoma. He opined on his time on Capitol Hill saying, “I did not see it as a swamp but as the home of democracy and the shining example for the world of how a diverse nation can come together to advance our people, society, nation and collective vision. I loved the House and was inspired by statesmen, motivated by reformers, grounded in history, and humbled by responsibility because we shared a vision that we are Americans first.”
Dave offered some advice to the Bryce Harlow Fellows who are students in pursuit of a career in professional advocacy through government relations. The CEO said that the accelerated Internet age will force them to sift through the noise, flood of fake news and so-called opinion on social media to judge the integrity of information. He warned that this onslaught of information can engender cynicism and fear, but he offered a path forward. “I believe very strongly in the capacity of public service and community service to lift up not only your neighbors, but also yourself. Commit yourself to the betterment of those around you or those in lands far beyond yours that are in need. I can tell you – and so can so many others in this room – that it can lead to a life of fulfillment allowing you to see the best of humankind and pushing yourself to achieve things you never thought possible.”
Also honored at the Bryce Harlow Foundation 36th Annual Awards Dinner, was U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) who received the Bryce Harlow Award bestowed each year on a notable individual, most often an elected official, with a career that echoed the work and life of Bryce Harlow and which was built on championing the principles of integrity, dedication and professionalism in the business-government relations community. He was introduced by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO).
The International Energy Agency said today that renewables surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world. While solar, wind, geothermal and other non-hydro renewables remain a very small portion of the world’s total primary energy supply, they are on the rise. This has taken place simultaneously with growth in the use of natural gas for both electric generation and in homes and businesses for heating and cooling, water heating, cooking and clothes drying. More homes and businesses use natural gas today than ever before and the numbers continue to increase.
Substantial amounts of coal-to-gas switching has taken place alongside the growth in renewable electricity in the United States. Between 2007 and 2015, the amount of electricity generated at coal-fired power plants declined more than 30 percent. Natural gas and renewables have filled that gap, with natural gas providing about two-thirds of the electricity to plug the hole left by coal; renewables made up the other third. Natural gas continues to grow rapidly and will remain a foundational fuel for the world’s energy supply for some time to come.
This is what an “all of the above” energy plan looks like and it has brought us to the lowest annual carbon dioxide emissions in decades.
Americans want natural gas to heat their homes, warm their water and cook their food because it is comfortable and affordable. More homes and businesses use clean natural gas today than ever before and the numbers continue to increase. In addition, many industries use natural gas as a fuel or a feedstock for production. Recent low prices of natural gas have reduced the price of goods manufactured in this country and created many manufacturing jobs here at home. To deliver that unparalleled value, we need to build more pipelines and expand our pipeline capacity in certain parts of the country. New pipeline and processing infrastructure expansion will be key to connecting new supply sources with new and growing sources of demand.
A study prepared for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) by IHS released last week says that total natural gas demand is poised to increase by 40 percent over the next decade—double the growth of the past 10 years. IHS estimates that as a result of the increase in domestic shale gas production, the United States’ gross domestic product (GDP) increased by $190 billion and added 1.4 million more jobs. Our nation’s natural gas abundance means the average American family had an extra $1,337 in disposable income.
When we invest in constructing, expanding and repurposing existing natural gas pipelines, it makes a significant contribution to the U.S. economy. The study explores increases in economic activity in sectors that provide the goods and services used in the construction and operation of natural gas pipelines such as steel pipe, coatings, construction equipment, compressors, motors, gauges and instruments, sand and gravel, engineering and design services, etc., as well as the spending of disposable income by construction workers. The construction of new natural gas transmission lines meant more than 347,000 jobs in 2015 alone. When you also consider the ongoing impacts of operation and maintenance of existing pipelines as well, it adds up to nearly $50 billion in GDP that year.
The study cites two reports supported by the American Gas Foundation including “Gas Distribution Infrastructure: Pipeline Replacement and Upgrades” from July 2012 and “Fueling the Future with Natural Gas: Bringing It Home,” which was also prepared by IHS in January 2014. The “Fueling the Future” report highlighted an opportunity to use natural gas to promote economic development, attract industrial, power or large commercial gas-using facilities to serve as anchor tenants around which a gas distribution system can be extended to smaller residential and commercial customers in the area. To do this, we need a new regulatory atmosphere. Much of the prevailing natural gas regulation was developed in a time of perceived natural gas scarcity. Thirty-seven states have adopted or are currently considering innovative pipeline expansion proposals to get gas to communities that don’t yet have it, and that number is quickly growing. As they do, more American homes and business will be able to experience the benefits of clean natural gas for themselves.