Category Archives: energy

Jackie Bavaro A Changing Energy Landscape presents Growth of Natural Gas Investment Opportunities

The cover story for the May issue of American Gas magazine, titled “Investments Abound” discusses the changing energy landscape and the possibilities for growth and opportunity that exist.

In this rapidly changing industry, many of the remaining silos that once separated energy sectors are disappearing. In October 2015, Duke Energy made headlines when it announced its $4.9 billion acquisition of its Atlantic Coast Pipeline Partner, Piedmont Natural Gas. Additionally, the proposed $12 billion Southern Co.-AGL Resources merger is expected to create the United States’ second-largest utility by customer base, with approximately nine million utility customers in nine states.Capture3

Furthermore, with an attractive regulatory environment and presence of quality assets, the United States is a prime market for Canadian investors. Canadian-based Emera’s $10.4 billion acquisition of TECO Energy, approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee this past January, reflects the strong interest abroad in U.S.-regulated assets. TransCanada’s bid for the Columbia Pipeline Group further shows how foreign energy companies view competing in the American market as a real opportunity to grow investments.

Merger-and-acquisition activities have had a hand in rejuvenating the investment portfolios of the stakeholders of many natural gas and utility companies in the United States and those across its northern border. Combined with global environmental and economic factors, the changing investment landscape could add a new dimension to what it means to be an energy provider in America.

To learn more, you can read the American Gas article here.

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Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Utilities Offer Innovative Programs to Enhance Customer Engagement

The cover story for the April issue of American Gas magazine, titled “How Engaging Are You?” features three AGA member companies—Con Edison, Alliant Energy and Pepco Holdings—in their quest to offer innovative programs to provide an engaging user experience for their customers.

In January 2015, Con Edison created a unique strategy to gain insight and feedback from their customers through the Con Edison Advisory Community, an online panel designed to deliver an enhanced customer experience benefitting both customers and internal stakeholders. Since its inception, Con Edison has recruited almost 11,000 customers who interact through weekly topics delivered via online surveys. After gaining insight and feedback from these surveys, the utility is embarking on a complete redesign of its website and mobile channels in order to meet customers’ evolving needs. The site will provide customers with a simple, intuitive experience, improved mobile access, personalized content and better energy management tools in order to provide a positive, engaging user experience.

At Madison, Wisconsin-based Alliant Energy Corp., customers are taking part in a one-Capture1year pilot program called the Alliant Energy Advisor, which is designed to help engage the end-user in customized approaches to energy efficiency. As part of the program, 3,500 Alliant Energy residential customers have been able to monitor their own personalized plans for saving energy with the goal to complete at least one energy-efficient project throughout the year. This includes commitments from changing light bulbs to compact fluorescent lamps or installing faucet aerators and tank insulation. As a result, participants have saved more than 525,000 kWh and 32,000 therms.

At Pepco Holdings Inc., reliability is a constant focus. According to William Stefy, the process owner of customer experience, insights come from four primary channels: transactional surveys, quarterly customer satisfaction surveys, focus groups and online panels. The goal of this survey work is to understand what customers want and need, as well as exchange and embrace customer feedback based on their experiences. This data gathering ultimately helps Pepco communicate with consumers in a more timely and personal way.

Customer engagement is a top priority for natural gas utilities and it is evident through the success of these programs. The valuable work our member companies are doing to boost customer loyalty and satisfaction is important and allows for our consumers to engage with their utilities with a more meaningful and creative approach.

To learn more about these customer engagement efforts, you can read the April cover story here.

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Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Utilities Launch New EPA Program to Reduce Emissions

A concerted effort by natural gas utilities to upgrade our nation’s pipeline network in order to enhance safety has also contributed significantly to a declining trend in emissions from the natural gas distribution system. A report published last year led by a team from Washington State University and sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund found that as little as 0.1 percent of the natural gas delivered nationwide is emitted from local distribution systems.

In an effort that will help contribute to this declining trend, nearly 40 AGA-member natural gas utilities launched the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program, a voluntary partnership between EPA and the U.S. oil and natural gas industry, focusing on achieving cost-effective and flexible methane emission reductions from natural gas operations. The Founding Partner companies present at the launch operate in 43 states, represent nearly 70 percent of natural gas customers and operate 1,284,064 miles of natural gas distribution mains and services nationwide.

The new and innovative program was launched on March 30 at the Global Methane CaptureForum, hosted by the Global Methane Initiative and the Climate and Clean Air Coalition, which brought together policymakers and industry experts from more than 50 countries. At the launch ceremony, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation Janet McCabe personally acknowledged and greeted representatives from each of the Founding Partner companies and noted that the Program “complements regulatory efforts that will help the U.S. meet the Obama Administration’s goal of reducing methane emissions by 40-45 percent by 2025.”

Partner companies participating in the program will have made company-wide commitments to implement a host of best management practices across their operations within five years. This will allow companies to showcase their efforts in reducing natural gas emissions, improving air quality and capturing and monetizing this valuable energy resource. Partner achievements will be publicly recognized and tracked by submitting annual data directly to EPA.

Having 39 AGA-member companies present as Founding Partners was an impressive showing that demonstrates the deep commitment and dedication of our industry, but it’s important to note that additional companies can join the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program at any time.

Click here for a complete list of companies who joined the Natural Gas STAR Methane Challenge Program.



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Jackie Bavaro Natural Gas Efficiency Programs Help Consumers Save Money while Conserving Energy

In 2014, natural gas efficiency programs in the United States increased spending by 10.4 % compared to the previous year. As a result, natural gas utilities helped customers save 175 trillion Btus of energy and offset 9.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions that year according to a new report. The Natural Gas Efficiency Programs Report presents data from the American Gas Association and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) outlining how utilities are helping customers save even more on what is already an efficient and affordable energy choice for many Americans.

Last year, natural gas utilities in the United States budgeted $1.46 billion for efficiency Capture2programs and they continue to increase their commitment to delivering energy savings by providing valuable tools, incentives and information to help their customers understand and reduce their energy usage and carbon footprint.

Contact your local natural gas utility to see if they offer home energy audits, weatherization kits and programmable thermostats, as well as provide materials on the latest technology in high-efficiency natural gas appliances.

For more information, you can read the full report here.

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