APGA Holds Marketing Campaign Webinar
On December 3, APGA held a webinar for members on the upcoming direct-use marketing campaign. The webinar was led by Andy Crabtree from Crabtree Ink, which is the vendor that APGA employed to develop the materials for the campaign. The direct-use messaging campaign is a result of the work done by APGA’s Direct-Use Task Group. The task group has worked over the past year to develop messages to promote the direct-use of natural gas to policymakers in Washington, D.C., and is now ready to communicate similar messaging to customers of APGA members. The campaign will provide APGA and its members with materials, such as a brochure, social media messages, a PSA, and more, to use in promoting natural gas to customers. The campaign is called Look Closer and it encourages customers to learn more about the benefits of natural gas like its affordability, reliability and efficiency.
The materials will be ready in early to mid-January; so before then, APGA wants to inform all members of the campaign so that members can readily roll out the campaign and utilize the materials. Andy Crabtree did a presentation on the campaign at the recent Gas Utility Management Conference in Asheville, N.C., and was able to hold the latest webinar for those unable to make it to the conference. The webinar featured information on the branding of the Look Closer campaign and what materials will be available as well as best practices. At the end of Andy’s presentation, there was a question and answer session. A recording of the webinar is available online at www.apga.org/webinars. More information on the Look Closer campaign debut will be forthcoming from APGA.
For questions on this article, please contact Audrey Anderson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senate Commerce Committee Passes Pipeline Safety Legislation
The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation marked up and passed the Securing America’s Future Energy: Protecting our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act, which reauthorized the Pipeline Safety Act on December 9.
Before the bill passed out of the committee, six amendments were addressed with three from Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and three from Senator Edward Markey (D-Mass.):
Sen. Ayotte’s first amendment was included in the base text of the bill and requires the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Administrator to consult with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as part of pre-filing procedures for new natural gas pipeline infrastructure. His second amendment was withdrawn by Sen. Ayotte due to inclusion of a study provision on this issue in the bill, which requires the Secretary of Transportation to create a requirement that all combustible gas in transportation be odorized. Sen. Ayotte’s third amendment was included in the base text of the bill and requires the Secretary of Transportation to coordinate with states on pipeline transportation safety. Specifically, to allow a certified state authority to participate in the inspection of an interstate pipeline at the state’s request, and, where appropriate, provide temporary authority for a state to participate in oversight of interstate pipeline safety transportation.
Sen. Markey’s first amendment was included in the base text of the bill and requires PHMSA to provide a report to Congress on the metrics provided to PHMSA and other agencies on lost or unaccounted for gas from distribution pipeline systems. His second amendment was included in the base text of the bill and requires the Comptroller General to conduct a state by state review of state policies to repair and replace leaking natural gas system pipelines or systems that pose a threat to public safety, as well as timelines to repair leaks and limits on cost recovery from ratepayers. Sen. Markey’s third amendment was included in the base text of the bill and alters oil spill response plans.
Moving forward, the bill will be considered on the full Senate floor where outlook for the legislation is positive given the strong bipartisan support for the bill. Timing of the vote is unclear as of now. APGA will keep members informed of any developments.
For questions on this article, please contact Scott Morrison of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at email@example.com.
APGA Members Present Appreciation Awards to FERC Commissioner and House Members
On December 7 and 8, members of the APGA Board of Directors presented several APGA Appreciation Awards when they were in town to meet with commissioners on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Marie Therese Dominguez, Administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). An award was presented to Congressman Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) in recognition and appreciation of his leadership on a letter sent to Secretary Moniz expressing concern regarding the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed natural gas furnace efficiency standard. In the letter, Congressman Brooks and 120 of his fellow House members communicated to DOE that by “setting a nationwide energy efficiency standard that precludes a consumer from choosing to install a non¬condensing furnace, DOE will be forcing many homeowners either to abandon the use of natural gas to heat their homes or to pay substantially more for the installation of a furnace that meets the new standard.” The letter also urged DOE “to avoid such an ‘either-or’ approach to furnace efficiency, by establishing separate product classes for condensing and non-condensing furnaces, each with its own efficiency standard.” An award was also presented to Congresswoman Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for her efforts toward the successful passage of an amendment, supported by APGA, on the House floor to the fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill that would eliminate funding for the furnace rule.
APGA leadership also presented an appreciation award to former FERC Commissioner Moeller for his efforts to support reform of Section 5 of the Natural Gas Act and his leadership in promoting natural gas markets, improving market transparency, and strengthening the U.S. energy infrastructure. Commissioner Moeller stepped down from FERC at the end of October. He joined FERC in 2006 and was sworn in for a second term in July 2010. APGA supported Commissioner Moeller’s nomination and he has spoken at several APGA conferences.
For questions on this article, please contact Dave Schryver of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
APGA Meets with FERC Commissioners
On December 8, members of the APGA Board of Directors and the Regulatory Subcommittee met with members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington, D.C. The APGA representatives that participated in the meeting included: Rich Worsinger, APGA’s Chairman and Director of Energy Resources for the City of Rocky Mount, N.C.; Jim Hodges, APGA’s First Vice-Chair and Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer for Middle Tennessee Natural Gas Utility District; Kathy Garcia, Director, Federal & State Relations for CPS Energy, Texas; Donnie Sharp, Natural Gas Supply Coordinator for Huntsville Utilities, Ala.; Terrill Booker, Administrator of Regulatory & Safety Compliance for the Lake Apopka Natural Gas District, Fla.; Bud Miller, APGA’s General Counsel; Bert Kalisch, APGA’s President & CEO; and, Dave Schryver, APGA’s Executive Vice President.
The issues that were raised in the meeting included pipeline over-collections and natural gas direct-use as well as the change in pipeline flows as a result of shale production. APGA also met with FERC staff to discuss an effort FERC has undertaken to look at the liquidity of price indices and the use of price indices in jurisdictional tariffs.
APGA leadership meets with the FERC commissioners twice a year as a means to communicate information and positions on federal regulatory matters of concern to public natural gas systems. These meetings play a critical role in APGA’s advocacy efforts as they have allowed APGA to develop and maintain a relationship with the commissioners. APGA previously met with the commissioners in April. For questions regarding this article or on APGA’s regulatory advocacy efforts, please contact Dave Schryver of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at email@example.com.
APGA Meets With PHMSA Administrator Dominguez
On December 9, a delegation of APGA members and staff met with the new Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Administrator, Marie Therese Dominguez, at PHMSA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. The purpose of the meeting was to begin an ongoing dialogue between PHMSA and APGA’s leadership to ensure that pipeline safety regulations are reasonable and practical for public natural gas systems. Many APGA members have expressed concern that PHMSA’s regulations seem to be aimed at the safety problems of large interstate oil and gas pipelines with little consideration of whether the same safety issues apply to public natural gas utilities and the administrative burdens the rules would impose on local distribution systems. Representing APGA at the meeting were: APGA Chairman Rich Worsinger of City of Rocky Mount, N.C.; APGA First Vice Chairman Jim Hodges of Middle Tennessee Natural Gas; APGA Operations and Safety Committee Chairman Terrill Booker of Lake Apopka, Fla., Natural Gas District; Kathy Garcia of CPS Energy, Texas; and, John Olshefski of Huntsville, Ala., Utilities. APGA’s Bert Kalisch, Dave Schryver and John Erickson also attended.
APGA cited PHMSA’s own Distribution Annual Report data to demonstrate that the majority of the entities affected by PHMSA’s pipeline safety regulations are local public natural gas utilities serving fewer than 10,000 customers. Few, if any, of these utilities have compressors, computer-based geographic information systems or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems, or even in-house engineering staff. Recent regulations such as the construction inspection rule, the control room management rule and the American Petroleum Institute (API) recommended practice on Pipeline Safety Management System (PSMS) will be challenging for even the very largest interstate pipelines to implement and will be daunting to most APGA members. APGA pointed out that due to their size, simplicity of most systems and limited geographic service area, the safety issues facing public natural gas systems are very different than that of large interstate pipelines.
Administrator Dominguez asked how APGA members would implement the new API Recommended Practice on PSMS. APGA explained that, while APGA members are committed to managing safety, the API document is not written in terms familiar to public natural gas, nor does it consider the differences in the complexity between public natural gas systems and interstate pipeline systems. APGA has committed to developing guidelines for safety management in public natural gas systems and encourages members to consider that document in lieu of the API document.
At the conclusion of the meeting, both PHMSA and APGA agreed to continue regular meetings to discuss collaboration to promote reasonable and effective pipeline safety regulations. For questions on this article, please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-0834 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
EIA Reports Storage Decrease of 76 Bcf to Put Working Gas Storage at 3,880 Bcf
Here is the weekly EIA Summary Report issued on Thursday, December 10, 2015, which reports the week’s storage report highlights for Friday, December 4, 2015. A 76 Bcf decrease has been reported.
Working gas in storage was 3,880 Bcf as of Friday, December 4, 2015, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 76 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 514 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 236 Bcf above the five-year average of 3,644 Bcf. At 3,880 Bcf, total working gas is above the five-year historical range.
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