Category Archives: people

Jake Rubin Understanding Your Natural Gas Bill

More than 177 million Americans use natural gas to cook a hot meal, heat their water or warm their houses. Many parts of the country have felt the chill of winter and that means folks are using more natural gas. The American Gas Association has developed a video to explain what goes into your natural gas bill.

Your bill is essentially comprised of three parts:

  1. Gas you used: Often, the largest part of your bill is based on the amount of natural gas you use each month. The United States has an abundance of clean natural gas and that has led to stable and affordable prices. Utilities do not make a profit on the gas they deliver to your home or business.
  2.  Delivery cost: The public utility commission, a group of elected or appointed officials, sets the rate that your utility can charge each month. Included in this cost is maintenance, upgrades of the pipes that deliver natural gas to your home or businesses and everything else that is needed to help ensure safe and reliable delivery of natural gas.
  3.  Local, state and federal taxes.

During the 2013-14 Winter Heating Season, the natural gas delivery system in the United States achieved historic levels of performance. More natural gas was delivered through more pipelines to more customers than ever before, and customer bills remained affordable. Residential customer bills increased only 10 percent on average from the prior winter – an increase mostly due to higher consumption.

AGA expects relatively warmer temperatures this winter based on information from the climate Prediction Center, which may lead to a reduction in demand. Natural gas prices are likely to be slightly higher, resulting in an increase in customer bills of about seven percent this winter.

Promise Delivered is an AGA study of the planning, preparation and performance of the natural gas system during the 2013-14 Winter Heating Season. Utilities work all year to prepare for the possibility of extreme temperatures and employ a portfolio approach to help ensure they can meet the needs of their customers at affordable prices on the coldest days of the year. Before last year’s extraordinary winter concluded, they were already preparing for this winter cycle.

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Tracy Burleson Great Kitchens Help to Sell Great Homes

Consider Customized Cooking Equipment in Unique Colors & Finishes to Add Value to a Home

Guest Blogger: Ann Pelicata, Marketing Manager, BlueStar®*

Blue Star logo 300x63 Great Kitchens Help to Sell Great Homes

It’s no secret that restaurant-quality appliances are hot for the serious and aspiring home chef – and a hot commodity in the real estate world.  Builders and remodelers can add a little sizzle to the kitchen with a customized, USA-handcrafted BlueStar® Platinum Series  professional gas range decked out in the newly announced Pantone® 2015 Color of the Year, Marsala, which will be on view at the International Builders’ Show (IBS) on Jan. 20 through 22 in Las Vegas, NV as part of the American Gas Association booth (#C2615).

Cooking With Color

BS Marsala Kitchen 286x300 Great Kitchens Help to Sell Great Homes While the rest of the kitchen is often a monochromatic look, the range offers an opportunity to add unique color and standout design.  In a model home, consider featuring a range in a vivid shade or add just a splash of color to a stainless steel range with colored knobs.  BlueStar offers more than 750 colors and nearly unlimited customization options, including custom trim packages, to personalize a statement kitchen – and offers home builders a real opportunity to differentiate homes.  Choose from unique color collections such as on-trend precious metals finishes, textured finishes and new jewel tones. Prospective home buyers will love the ability to design a completely personalized product that fits their design sensibilities and cooking preferences.

Chef’s Choice

A BlueStar commercial style gas range offers unmatched power and performance. Handcrafted in Reading, PA since 1880, BlueStar cooking products are designed for discerning home chefs who demand restaurant-quality results in their own kitchens.  With an unparalleled burner intensity of up to 25,000 BTUs, a precise 130 simmer burner and an extra-large capacity convection gas oven,  BlueStar is a standout choice for quality home builders.

BlueStar will showcase its premium Platinum Series™ range in Marsala at IBS. Pantone describes the color as “a naturally robust and earthy wine red”—and, according to BlueStar, this shade makes a rich appliance color or an ideal kitchen accent. The Platinum Series™, which includes 60-inch, 48-inch, 36-inch and 30-inch units, features searing 25,000 BTU burners for maximum, concentrated heat; an interchangeable cast-iron griddle/charbroiler system that offers the ultimate in cooking flexibility; and the revolutionary PowR Oven™ technology to ensure faster, more efficient heating.  As with all BlueStar gas ranges, the Platinum Series also features a precise simmer burner, integrated wok cooking and an extra-large convection oven that fits a commercial size sheet pan.

The BlueStar® product line also features additional gas range lines; new high-performance electric wall oven; gas rangetops and cooktop; gas wall ovens; professional-style kitchen hoods; and salamander grills.

*Statements of fact or opinion in this blog post are the responsibility of BlueStar alone and do not imply an opinion or endorsement on the part of the American Gas Association.

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Allison Cunningham What do the 2014 Midterm Elections Mean for Natural Gas Customers?

On Nov. 4, the American public chose the political leaders from statehouses to our nation’s capital who will help guide our country’s energy policy for the next two years. While political seats may have shifted, the core needs of the American public, including the need for leaders who can reach across the party aisle to forge workable solutions, remain the same. As America seeks leadership and action on the complex trifecta that is our economy, our environment and our energy security, AGA and the nation’s local natural gas utilities will work with policymakers and stakeholders throughout the country to find ways to secure a role for natural gas as the foundation of a clean and secure energy future.

The 2014 midterm elections ushered in significant changes for the political makeup of Congress. The Senate majority was returned to the Republicans for the first time since 2006, and in the House of Representatives, Republicans simultaneously expanded their controlling majority. While Election Day has come and gone, there are still seats left to be determined in some cases. From runoffs to recounts, the country will be watching the races in places like Alaska and Louisiana for weeks to come.

Image for Midterm Recap Post 300x145 What do the 2014 Midterm Elections Mean for Natural Gas Customers?

Image Courtesy of the National Journal.

 While the majority of elections are over, the process of determining who will fill committee leadership posts is just beginning, including those of committees with oversight over natural gas utility issues. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) is expected to retain his gavel in the next Congress. With the Senate majority moving into the hands of Republicans, Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski will take the Chairmanship of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Her predecessor in that role, Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA), hits the campaign trail again leading into a December 6 runoff. On the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch (R-UT) brings many years of experience dealing with natural gas tax legislation, which may help guide policy action on that front.

The votes have been cast and it is clearer than ever that Americans are ready for their elected officials to get to work passing meaningful legislation on a broad range of issues. Regardless of electoral outcomes, America’s domestic abundance of natural gas offers bipartisan solutions for improving the economy, the environment and energy security. AGA and America’s local natural gas utilities will continue the work to elevate the safety and reliability of natural gas delivery as we help our customers find ways to save money and reduce their carbon footprint by using natural gas even more efficiently in their homes and businesses. We will work to help our low-income customers meet their energy needs and work within our local communities to give back and improve the lives of those we serve. We will continue to strive to further upgrade, modernize and expand the more than 2.4 million miles of pipeline that make up the nation’s natural gas delivery system, helping to ensure that our natural gas infrastructure is robust and resilient to meet the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. And we will work with elected officials to foster a policy environment that allows all Americans to access the economic, environmental and energy benefits of natural gas for decades to come.

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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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