Category Archives: utility

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.

Posted in appliances, education, energy, Natural Gas, people, utility, weather, winter heating | Leave a comment

Lisa O'Leary 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.

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

Lisa O'Leary 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

Christina Nyquist Announcing the AGA Peer Review Program: Further Elevating the Safety of Natural Gas Delivery

1 200x300 Announcing the AGA Peer Review Program: Further Elevating the Safety of Natural Gas DeliveryOn October 15, AGA announced a new voluntary safety initiative for local natural gas utilities throughout North America. The National AGA Peer Review Program is a peer-to-peer safety and operational practices review program that will allow AGA member companies to observe their peers, share leading practices and identify opportunities to better serve customers and communities. While other industries have implemented various forms of peer review processes as part of their safety efforts, this marks the first time the natural gas utility sector will undertake such an effort at the national level.

How it Works:

Beginning in January 2015, companies from the more than 200 local natural gas utilities that make up AGA’s membership will volunteer to participate in peer groups, sending experienced natural gas operators, engineers and safety experts to visit one another’s facilities and conduct detailed reviews focused on key aspects of safety culture, pipeline and employee safety. As AGA’s Vice President of Operations and Engineering Christina Sames said, the AGA Peer Review Program gives participants the opportunity to “have the absolute best minds in the industry – working professionals who are experts in their field – collaborate with other utilities to help identify what is working well and where there are opportunities for improvement.”

Elevating Safety:

This initiative is just the latest development in the industry’s continuing effort to elevate the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to homes and businesses. Safety is a core value for AGA and its member companies. There is robust oversight and regulation focused on the natural gas industry to help ensure safety and reliability, and utilities work with public officials, regulators, safety advocates and other key stakeholders continually further these efforts. Additionally, the industry advances safety even further through voluntary actions and continued improvements to delivery systems as part of their Commitment to Enhancing Safety. In total, natural gas utilities spend more than $19 billion annually to monitor, maintain and upgrade natural gas distribution and transmission systems.

How You Can Help Enhance Safety:

While the AGA Peer Review Program will add to the industry’s ongoing work to help ensure safe and reliable natural gas delivery, you are an important part of the process. As a customer or member of the community there are a few important ways to stay safe around natural gas.

  • Report the smell of natural gas immediately to your local natural gas utility. Natural gas is odorized with Mercaptan – which smells like rotten eggs – to help detect natural gas leaks.
  • Make sure natural gas appliances and fuel lines are properly maintained.
  • Call 811 before any digging or excavation project – even planting trees or flowers.
  • Spread the word about safe digging. Excavation damage is the leading cause of pipeline incidents in the United States, but progress is being made thanks to public awareness efforts.
  • Pay attention to safety communications from your local utility. Look for bill inserts, ads, or follow their social media channels to stay informed.

Learn more about the AGA Peer Review Program and Natural Gas Safety:

Posted in Natural Gas, safety, utility | Leave a comment