Category Archives: Natural Gas

Allison Cunningham Midterm Elections: Energy Industry Implications

With a few days left before the November midterm elections, polls remain down to the wire in many races. As Republicans look to make moderate gains in the House of Representatives and vie for control of the Senate majority we may see people casting votes that reflect low presidential approval ratings and nominal support for the Affordable Care Act. This is nothing new, as voting against the party and policies of an incumbent president is a phenomenon seen in five of the last six post-WWII second-term midterm elections.

While Ebola and threats from ISIL continue to move to the forefront of voters’ minds, a few key races have serious implications for energy legislation in the next Congress.

The Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, finds himself in one of the closest and most expensive re-election races in the country. In Kentucky, President Obama’s carbon rule hits particularly close to home, with McConnell (R) and opponent Allison Lundergran-Grimes (D) both vying to be seen as the most “coal-friendly” candidate.

In Colorado, Congressman Cory Gardner (R) is running against incumbent Senator Mark Udall (D), in a race featuring several Republican ads focused on energy issues. In an October debate, Gardner and Udall exchanged heated words regarding whether or not a carbon tax was helpful in curbing climate change from man-made emissions. When it comes to regulating oil and gas operations, Gardner has sponsored House bills to increase access to domestic land for oil production and has sponsored a bill to streamline the permitting process for drilling on the Alaskan Outer Continental Shelf. Both Gardner and Udall have sponsored bills aimed at to streamlining the permitting processes for liquefied natural gas exports.

Finally, the Senate race with potential to have the biggest impact on the energy industry – the Louisiana Senate race – may not be decided until a month after Election Day. With incumbent and current Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Mary Landrieu (D) facing Congressman Bill Cassidy (R) in a tight race, polling data continues to point to a December 6 runoff, which could be impacted by Southeastern Conference Football, if the Louisiana State University Tigers play in the SEC Championship game on the same day.

Though some key races may drag into December and January, both Republicans and the White House are beginning to brainstorm plans for the next Congress. As House Republicans look to expand their majority, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has begun publicly discussing plans for working with a Republican-controlled Senate, naming energy issues as a top priority. One idea brought forth by McCarthy is the possibility of paying for highway spending through drilling on public lands.

Meanwhile, the White House is beginning to consider what it would look like to work with a Republican-controlled House and Senate. White House aides have mentioned tax reform, infrastructure, unemployment insurance, minimum wage, early childhood education and sentencing reform as areas for a possible collaboration. Senate Republicans claim to be ready to work together on trade, infrastructure spending and sentencing reform.

Let us know below what you think will happen in the elections and what that means for energy policy going forward, and don’t forget to get out and vote on November 4.

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Lisa Dundon Vectren Named 2014 Business of the Year Honoree

Dayton Business of the Year Award Vectren Named 2014 Business of the Year HonoreeAGA members are partners in their communities, many who have served their customers for more than 100 years. Vectren Energy Delivery of Ohio has been recognized for its role in the community, being named a 2014 Business of the Year honoree by The Dayton Business Journal. Vectren is an award recipient in the category of “Community Supporter” along with the Heidelberg Distribution Company and The Standard Register Company.

Honorees are selected by a panel of guest judges and The Dayton Business Journal Editorial Board. The category winners are selected by a panel of outside judges who were selected from a group of 10 Regional Leader of the Year honorees for this year’s program.

Now in its thirteenth year, the Business of the Year awards program will culminate with a black-tie gala honoring the winners and other influential business leaders from prestigious small and large businesses on November 6 in Dayton, Ohio. At that time, the first, second and third place winners of each category will be revealed. Profiles of the finalists and winners will be published in a special Business of the Year supplement on November 7.

Please join AGA in congratulating Vectren for being selected as an honoree, as well as wishing them good luck in the “Community Supporter” category.

If your utility has recently been honored or won an award, please let AGA know in the comments section below or be e-mailing ldundon@aga.org.

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Richard Meyer Natural Gas Storage Capably Poised As Winter Approaches

One of the largest slices of the United States’ natural gas supply pie is underground storage. Natural gas withdrawals from storage during winter months and injections during summer help manage seasonal swings in demand, a critical feature of meeting physical supply needs as well as helping stabilize natural gas prices.

natural gas supply polar vortex 2014 Natural Gas Storage Capably Poised As Winter ApproachesThe critical importance of having adequate gas in place to meet winter heating demand is one reason market observers focus on storage volumes and gauge the pace of injections each summer.

After last winter’s polar vortex, which brought persistent cold and record natural gas demand, storage stocks hit troughs not touched in a decade. Given the depths that storage levels plunged by winter’s end, many observers wondered or even worried whether storage refills would put sufficient supplies in place for the following winter.

Well, the market responded and supplies have returned to a strong position. But what happened between then and now?

First is that natural gas production has continued to grow steadily. Dry gas production is up five percent or three Bcf per day during the past year (March through October). New production volumes mean more flowing gas is available for storage.

The second reason is that cooler summer weather eased demand. Summer temperatures were down four percent compared with 2013. Those areas of the country that happen to have the most storage fields, such as the Gulf Coast, Upper Midwest, Northeast and even the Mountain region, coincidentally saw steeper drops in temperatures year over year. Cooler weather meant less air conditioning and electric demand, which led to lower volumes of natural gas directed to power generation.

natural gas supply map Natural Gas Storage Capably Poised As Winter Approaches

Regional Temperatures Relative to 2013
(May – Sept % Change in Cooling Degree Days)

The confluence of record production and reduced demand has led to a record injection season. Since the end of April, natural gas volumes directed into storage have averaged nearly 14 Bcf per day. This is a considerably strong pace of injections compared with the five-year average of only 10 Bcf per day.

natural gas supply storage build and incremental production Natural Gas Storage Capably Poised As Winter ApproachesSo where does that put us? As of October 10, the U.S. has about 3,300 Bcf of working gas in storage. Before the end of the injection season, stocks are likely to climb to about 3,500 Bcf or perhaps even more. While this level is below last year’s pre-winter storage peak, which was about 3,800 Bcf, this amount of working gas in storage is still a healthy position for the market when additional production is factored in.

Production since June is about 2.3 Bcf per day above last winter’s average volumes. These incremental production volumes could serve an additional 350 Bcf or more though the winter. When considered alongside storage, the country’s natural gas supply portfolio is robust.

Recent reports suggest another polar vortex could be in store this winter. Weather prognostication is a tricky business, but either way the industry appears ready. Last year’s polar vortex was a stress test and the industry performed. Looking ahead toward this winter, the industry is capably poised yet again to meet another winter.

Posted in Natural Gas, supply, weather, winter heating | Leave a comment

Lisa Dundon Certified Green

AmGasMagCoverWebOct2 232x300 Certified GreenThe work sites of many natural gas compressor stations, storage facilities, and transmission and distribution lines sit on thousands of acres of land. Thanks in part to partnerships between the Wildlife Habitat Council (WHC) and America’s natural gas utilities, the land has become a healthy habitat for desirable wildlife and vegetation.

The cover story for the October issues of American Gas magazine, titled “Certified Green,” focuses on the ways the WHC helps a range of businesses develop good environmental stewardships practices for their working lands. While many of the energy companies WHC works with are already using the techniques they espouse, having a stamp of approval from an objective third party help build credibility and goodwill with customers, employees and regulators. Among the AGA member utilities that have met WHC’s “Wildlife at Work” program standards, which exceed state and federal regulatory requirements, are DTE Energy, Spectra Energy and Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE).

Nearly three dozen DTE work sites have been WHC-certified over the past decade, including an 80-acre compressor site and a nearby 2,360-acre underground natural gas storage reservoir. Deer and wild turkey wander on the site of pipes, engines and equipment, while waterfowl paddle around a lake and an on-site cooling pond.

In 2007, WHC helped EQT develop a plan to assuage the concerns of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the local community when the natural gas producer built a pipeline through eastern Kentucky. As part of the plan to ensure biodiversity, EQT used a native seed mix for its erosion control and vegetative cover requirements. Since 2011, when Spectra Energy acquired the pipeline from EQT, the utility has planted saplings along the right-of-way and remained a certified Wildlife at Work habitat.

Beginning in 2008, BGE worked with WHC to “green” its major hub for gas distribution lines as well as maintenance and construction activity. The 72-acre site now boasts the longest continuous riparian buffer in Baltimore and adjacent wetlands, four large grassy fields inhabited by Canada geese and birds, and a pollinator garden full of plants and scrubs for bees and butterflies.

To read the full article, click here. To see more from the October issue of the magazine, click here.

Posted in community, environment, Natural Gas, utility | Leave a comment