In an earlier post I mentioned that Tom Skains (AGA chairman and chairman, president and chief executive officer of Piedmont Natural Gas) would be speaking at the Natural Gas Roundtable this week and I was lucky enough to be able to go. It was a packed house so a special “thanks” to Ella for saving me a seat.
Tom started out with a very simple message. Natural gas is a clean, efficient and abundant energy source that provides an immediate, low carbon, domestic energy choice for America’s consumers. After that, he took some time to outline his priorities for the year.
- Advocating for the direct use of natural gas in America’s homes and businesses. It’s more efficient, more cost effective, better for the environment. Directly from the wellhead to the burner tip, natural gas loses only about 10 percent of its useable energy.
- Increase natural gas supply. Prices have moderated compared with this past summer, but that will change as economy picks up, and in current economic climate ANYTHING that can be done to lower prices and decrease volatility is good for customer, including:
- Keeping the OCS open and expanding into new areas
- Increasing access to non-federal park lands
- Increasing LNG
- Supporting the development of the Alaskan Pipeline to the lower 48
- Advocate that residential and commercial customers be covered but not capped under current climate change legislation . Here’s a great stat for you: The number of residential households using natural gas increased from 38 million in 1970 to about 65 million today – an increase of more than 70% – yet aggregate residential consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions remained essentially flat.
- Work with regulators to promote decoupling & other innovative rate designs. Today, 28 companies in 16 states have adopted some form of margin decoupling tariffs and 11 companies in 6 other states are in the process of approving it. Tom also made a point that no one-size-fits all. Utilities need to work with their regulators to determine best design for their individual circumstances.
- Work to increase LIHEAP funding. AGA led an effort to secure a record amount of funding for FY 2009, $5.1 billion, the full amount authorized in EPAct 2005. The Obama administration has requested only $3.2 billion for 2010. AGA will keep working on this issue to ensure low-income families get the help they need in these tough economic times. Here’s a link to a post on LIHEAP Action Day if you want to learn more.
- Continued outreach. Natural Gas has a great story to tell. An industry of solid fundamentals, good business practices, transparent operations, connected to our 65 million customers through 2 million miles of pipeline, and thanks to the inherent advantages of our clean-burning, efficient, domestic fuel, we have excellent growth opportunities-especially as we emphasize the advantages of the direct use of natural gas.
Quite a presentation. After Tom was done, there were some good questions from the media in attendance but Tom didn’t shy away, and gave what I thought were very good answers. If you missed it … well, you missed a good one. If you were able to attend, let me know your thoughts in the comments below.