APGA Weekly Update February 18 2016

02-18-2016 12:43

Celebrate Natural Gas Utility Workers' Day March 18 is now national Natural Gas Utility Workers' Day! In 2015, the APGA Marketing & Sales Committee began discussing how they believed natural gas utility workers deserved a day to be recognized for their hard work and accomplishments. After several months of planning, the committee named March 18 the day in which natural gas utility workers around the country will be honored each year. The decision to hold this day on March 18 was made by a poll on the APGA community. March 18 is the date of the New London, Texas school explosion in 1937 that led to the widespread odorization of natural gas and an increased emphasis on safety. Safety is a vital aspect to natural gas distribution, and the employees of distribution companies endeavor to make natural gas delivery as safe as possible. Please honor the natural gas utility workers in your community and at your system by celebrating on March 18! APGA has materials available online at www.apga.org/nguwday. In the meantime, we encourage you to plan events, communication, social media posts, etc., to celebrate this new and very important day! For questions on Natural Gas Utility Workers' Day, please contact Audrey Anderson at aanderson@apga.org. 2015 GOAL Program Shows High Level of Gas Safety Awareness The results of the public awareness effectiveness surveys conducted in 2015 were sent to APGA GOAL (Gas Overall Awareness Level) participants February 15. While the full details are limited to GOAL participants, some of the highlights are: • 81% of all respondents think they would recognize a natural gas leak by being able to smell it, • 89% of all respondents have heard that they or an excavator company should call a central number prior to digging to avoid accidentally hitting a natural gas pipeline, and • 96% of all respondents believe that they have adequate information about natural gas safety like how to recognize a leak or what they should do if they smell gas in the home. These results are based on 605,024 surveys of customers and non-customers in the service areas of the approximately 175 systems using GOAL to assess the effectiveness of their natural gas public awareness efforts. Under pipeline safety regulations enacted in 2006, all utilities are required to develop and follow a written public awareness plan and periodically assess the effectiveness of public awareness efforts through programs like GOAL. These results indicate a high level of awareness of natural gas safety among both customers and non-customers. The importance of these effectiveness assessments was brought to the forefront during public hearings on the September 9, 2010, pipeline rupture in San Bruno, CA. During the hearing before the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) the San Bruno Fire Chief stated that prior to the accident he was unaware that the gas transmission line was there, that the National Pipeline Mapping System existed, or that training programs on pipeline emergencies were available. In addition, NTSB staff challenged the validity of the mail-in surveys used by the utility for effectiveness assessment. APGA has taken great care to ensure that the GOAL program can stand up to such scrutiny. Our telephone polling method ensures that a random sample of both customers and non-customers is taken. The sample size is based on sound statistical principles designed to provide a 95% confidence level in the survey results – the highest confidence level used in any public opinion surveys. Systems can still join the GOAL program at any time. Information on GOAL, including enrollment forms, are available at www.apga.org. For questions on this article, please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-0834 or by email at jerickson@apga.org. In Memorium: APGA Remembers Don Napier Donald L. “Don” Napier, APGA President from 1982‐1983, passed away on February 14, 2016. Don was the Director of Water & Gas Utilities for Leesburg, Fla., for 36 years and had retired 15 years ago. During his time as President of APGA, Don oversaw two seminars aimed at boosting management and operations knowledge for municipal natural gas professionals and successfully lobbied against higher prices for natural gas from deep wells. Don’s local civic memberships included the Lions Club, Masonic Lodge, Dad’s Club, Moose Lodge, and Elks Club. Don had also been both member and officer of the Florida Natural Gas Association (FNGA), American Water Works Association, National Safety Council, and the Municipal Gas System Advisory Committee (MCSAC) of the Gas Research Institute. “Don was a strong leader and participant in the American Public Gas Association and the Florida Natural Gas Association (FNGA),” said Wiley Cauthen. Chuck Warrington, Managing Director and Executive Officer for Clearwater Gas System, also reflected on Don’s association work in the municipal natural gas industry. “Don Napier was the godfather of natural gas in Florida for those of us who grew up in this industry,” Chuck said. “I learned a lot from Don. He always stressed the importance of working together to grow our industry through our involvement in the many natural gas associations like APGA, FNGA, and MGSAC.” As a testament to his commitment to utility safety, FNGA named their prestigious operational excellence award the “Donald L. Napier ‐ Natural Gas Operating Person of the Year” award after him. During his time at Leesburg, Don received the APGA Personal Achievement Award and the APGA Distinguished Service Award. Don’s wife of 54 years, Helen, passed away in 2003, and they had two children, six grandchildren, and eight great‐grandchildren. Wiley Cauthen remembered Don and Helen by saying, “I cherish a lot of great memories with our friends, Don and Helen, over the years in both business and personal events. Don and Helen loved their children and grandchildren and always spoke of them with great excitement, joy, and pride.” Funeral Services will be held on Thursday, February 18, 2016. Temporary Stay to the Clean Power Plan With the sudden and unexpected death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the fate of the Clean Power Plan may now have a fighting chance in the courts. Justice Scalia joined his four fellow conservatives on the Supreme Court ordering a temporary stay and to postpone implementation of the Clean Power Plan. The court said legal challenges to Obama’s climate change regulations had to be settled first. 27 states and the coal industry sued the EPA over the new rules. The 5‐4 decision was a signal that the Clean Power Plan may not hold up to scrutiny by the Supreme Court. However with the death of Justice Scalia, Supreme Court decisions could end up in a tie until another justice is appointed. Any 4‐4 decision on the Clean Power Plan by the Supreme Court means the lower court decision would prevail, placing the fate of the Clean Power Plan in the hands of the liberal‐leaning D.C. Circuit Court. On the other hand, the Supreme Court may decide to postpone a decision on the Clean Power Plan until a ninth justice is confirmed. This scenario means a decision would ultimately be influenced by the politics surrounding the confirmation process and the outcome of the 2016 presidential race. For questions on this article, please contact Dan Lapato of APGA staff by phone at 202‐464‐2742 or by email at dlapato@apga.org. DOE Publishes an RFI on Revising How Source Energy is Calculated for Renewable Energy Sources On February 16, the DOE published a Request for Information (RFI) on a proposed alternative methodology for calculating source energy from non‐combustible renewable resources. DOE is gathering information from stakeholders to help inform EERE on whether a change to the source energy calculation should be proposed. DOE goes on to say, “This proposed change would better represent the lack of fuels used in generating renewable electricity, and would result in a slightly lower site‐to‐source ratio than the current approach.” This potential change would impact the site‐tosource ratios used in analyses that inform EERE reports, standards, and evaluations such as the Home Energy Score. Accounting for the total source energy of electricity produced from combustible fuels (e.g., coal, natural gas, oil) is relatively straightforward since the energy content of these fuels is known. However, for non‐combustible renewable resources (e.g., wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal) because there is no fuel used, a choice must be made to determine how to account for the primary energy of electricity generated from these sources. The current ‘‘fossil fuel equivalency’’ accounting convention, which is used by the EIA to calculate the reported source energy number, assumes that non‐combustible renewable electricity (RE) generation has the same source energy per kilowatt hour (kWh) as the average of fossil fuel electricity. This factor, equivalent to a heat rate, represents the average amount of fossil fuel energy required to produce a kWh of electricity. Alternatively, the factor can be thought of as the amount of fossil fuel energy displaced by a kWh of RE. The most recent value reported by EIA is 9,541 BTU/kWh, which is equivalent to a generation efficiency of roughly 36%. The ‘‘captured energy’’ alternative convention accounts only for the energy output from a noncombustible generator. This assumes that the conversion from energy resource (e.g. sunlight, wind, water, etc.) into electricity is 100% efficient. The energy content of electricity generated from a noncombustible source using this accounting convention is 3,412 BTU/kWh, which is a unit conversion. Using the captured energy approach decreases the site‐to‐source ratio from 2.98 to 2.77 as compared to the fossil fuel equivalency approach. Comments on the RFI are due March 14, 2016. For questions on this article, please contact Dan Lapato of APGA staff by phone at 202‐464‐2742 or by email at dlapato@apga.org. Work Area Protection (Barricading) Work on gas distribution systems is frequently performed on busy streets and highways. It is important that the work area be properly protected for the safety of the employees and pedestrians as well as protection from passing vehicular traffic. The colors and format for signs and specific layout for protection warning systems are often determined by local, state or utility regulations and should be strictly followed. Work area protection should be planned with the following objectives in mind: 1. To provide maximum protection for the employees in the street. 2. To provide maximum safety for passing motorists and pedestrians in the vicinity of the work area. 3. To maintain a safe, free flow of traffic around and consistent with the work area that is to be protected. Before setting up protection for a specific work area, the amount, kind, and speed of the passing traffic should be determined. Fast moving traffic should be given warning well in advance of the area to be protected. High and low‐level warning to oncoming traffic is generally advisable. High‐level advanced warning devices should be placed anywhere from 150 feet (for city street traffic) to 500 feet (for high‐speed highway traffic) ahead of the work area. Traffic cones provide an excellent guidance path to and around the work area. The spacing of cones depends upon vehicles speed and may range from 10 to 20 feet apart for slow moving traffic up to 50 or 60 feet apart for high‐speed traffic. Consideration should be given to barricade and protection for a flagman, especially when high‐speed traffic is reduced to one lane. Barricades are usually placed at right angles to the approaching traffic, and should be highly visible both day and night. Flashing warning lights, barricades with reflectors, and illuminated signs should be used at night. For work areas that are off the street, warnings and adequate barricades should be considered to protect pedestrians. The following are suggested methods for promoting work area protection (barricading). Early Warning – Place the first warning device well in advance of a job site. A minimum of 150 to 200 feet is recommended for city work while 500 to 1,000 feet is required for open highways. Place the first warning device so it can be seen but not hinder the flow of traffic. If feasible, place a truck between the flow of traffic and the work area in such a position that the rear of the truck is facing oncoming traffic. Signal lights and flashing lights on truck furnishes further protection. Whenever possible, locate the spoil bank on the side requiring the most protection. Barricade Work Area – Set up adequate work area protective equipment, and check for its attention‐getting characteristics. The main reason for using work area protection equipment is to prevent accidents. Narrow streets having two‐way traffic require warning signals at both ends of the job site to alert drivers and give them a chance to pass carefully. The use of flagmen should also be considered. Remind all employees to stay within the protected work area. Employees should wear high visibility warning vests. This article is excerpted from the “Natural Gas Safety Handbook for Utility Workers and Contractors” available on the APGA website at www.apga.org/resources/all. For questions on this article, please contact John Erickson of APGA staff by phone at 202‐464‐ 0834 or by email at jerickson@apga.org. NAESB Gas‐Electric Harmonization Committee to meet in Houston The North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) is reactivating its Gas‐Electric Harmonization (GEH) Forum to explore the potential for faster, computerized scheduling when shippers and confirming parties all submit electronic nominations and confirmations, including a streamlined confirmation process if necessary. The GEH Forum had previously been involved in making recommendations to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on issues related to potential changes in the start of the Gas Day and changes in the nomination cycles. NAESB, originally the Gas Industry Standards Board (GISB), serves as an industry forum for the development and promotion of standards which will lead to a seamless marketplace for wholesale and retail natural gas and electricity, as recognized by its customers, business community, participants, and regulatory entities. APGA staff and members will participate in the first meeting on this effort which is scheduled for February 18 and 19 in Houston. Additional meetings have been planned for March 7‐8 and March 21‐22 with the goal of having the GEH Forum complete a report with recommendations to the NAESB Board of Directors by April 3. From an APGA perspective, we are concerned that effort may potentially result in an effort to force additional nomination cycles on LDCs and all customers. We are also potentially concerned that this effort may result in all customers being required to use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) for getting data to the pipeline since many public gas systems may not have the resources for this. Copies of the presentations that will be made at the February meeting are available on the NAESB website at www.naesb.org/committee_activities.asp. If you have any questions on this article, please contact Dave Schryver of APGA’s staff by phone at 202‐464‐2742 or by email at dschryver@apga.org. Marketing Materials Available to APGA Members! The Look Closer marketing campaign materials are now ready for APGA members to access and download online! APGA has worked over the past year to develop a national, unified marketing campaign for its members to utilize. The theme is Look Closer, and it encourages natural gas customers to learn more about the benefits and availability of the direct‐use of natural gas. The materials in this campaign include a PSA, advertisements, brochure, and social media messaging. These materials are a benefit to APGA members and are no cost to members. APGA members can now visit apgalookcloser.com where they will find information and a link to access the materials. Members are then encouraged to download the materials and distribute them in their communities. It is imperative that members promote the direct‐use of natural gas, and using the Look Closer campaign will greatly further this goal of our industry. There will be a free webinar for APGA members on the Look Closer marketing campaign on February 23 at 3 pm EST. Crabtree Ink, the vendor who helped develop the materials, will host the webinar, and there will be time after for question and answer. Register for the webinar at www.apga.org/webinars. For questions about the Look Closer campaign, please contact Audrey Anderson at aanderson@apga.org. EIA Reports Storage Decrease of 158 Bcf to Put Working Gas Storage at 2,706 Bcf Here is the weekly EIA Summary Report issued on Thursday, February 18, 2016, which reports the week’s storage report highlights for Friday, February 12, 2016. A 158 Bcf decrease has been reported. Working gas in storage was 2,706 Bcf as of Friday, February 12, 2016, according to EIA estimates. This represents a net decline of 158 Bcf from the previous week. Stocks were 532 Bcf higher than last year at this time and 555 Bcf above the five‐year average of 2,151 Bcf. At 2,706 Bcf, total working gas is within the five‐year historical range.


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