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 Solicitation of Participation: The Natural Gas Codes and Standards Research Consortium 

Research supporting natural gas end use codes and standards has played a vital role in maintaining the market viability of natural gas in residential and commercial applications and expanding end uses of natural gas.  End use codes and standards issues facing natural gas include key technical barriers to continued and expanded use of natural gas in the residential and commercial end use applications, often in core applications such as space conditioning and water heating.  Barriers in these markets include code restrictions on new technologies and products and threats to continued use of technologies currently in the marketplace.

Research support of codes and standards core natural gas applications represent significant opportunities for growth as well as currently contributing to utility bottom lines.  Codes and standards research has demonstrated its cost effectiveness based on published analyses.[1]   This support, historically provided through a national tariff authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), had been collected and managed by the Gas Research Institute (GRI) and its successor organization, the Gas Technology Institute (GTI).

However, with the phase out of the FERC tariff in 2004, support of end use codes and standards research programs has become uncertain.  Proposals for voluntarily funded programs and new national tariffs supporting natural gas research and development have, to date, not included end use codes and standards.

In response to this new environment, the American Gas Association (AGA), under the auspices of the American Gas Foundation, is soliciting gas industry participation in a new program:  The Natural Gas Codes and Standards Research Consortium. 

 

 

Mission

 

The mission of the Natural Gas Codes and Standards Research Consortium is to fund research and analysis on end use natural gas technical issues for the mutual benefit of the gas utility industry and its customers.  Research issues considered for funding include national model codes and standards support, cost-effective energy efficiency for natural gas appliances, appliance and equipment safety, and associated public health issues.  The Consortium operates under the auspices of the American Gas Foundation.

 

Vision

 

Research on end use codes and standards issues contributes to the safe and economical use of natural gas.  Public benefits of natural gas end use are emphsized.  Research results are published and disseminated among model code organizations, industry organizations, government agencies, and the general public on a non-discriminatory basis.  Broad and unrestricted dissemination of results maximizes benefits of the research for the natural gas industry and it's customers.

  

 

 

AGA is seeking participation of gas utilities, including AGA member and non-member companies, in the Consortium.  Participation requires a three-year commitment of $25,000 annually.  The funding target for this first solicitation is $200,000 to $400,000 annually.  Funding participants would serve on the Consortium Board of Directors and define research project needs and priorities annually.  Issues addressed by project must be consistent with the mission of the Consortium.  Project priorities would be met through contract funding of qualified research organizations based on available funds.  Contracts for projects would be typically awarded on a competitive basis.  Projects reports and other deliverables would include declaration of public benefits of the research for use by participants with outside stakeholders, including regulatory bodies, at the discretion of the participant.  Participants would be active in governance of the Consortium as well as periodic review of funded projects.  Staff of the American Gas Association (AGA) would provide management services for the initiative and for daily management of research contracts.  Status of the initiative’s activities would be regularly reported to the American Gas Foundation.  Details on the operating plan for the Consortium will be developed in conjunction with companies interested in participation at the conclusion of this solicitation.  In addition, please note that we have attached a copy of an AGA letter to potential participants at the bottom of this page under "Related Files."

 

Why is this being considered?  Gas industry activities in end use codes and standards need continuing support of research and analytical activities to develop sound approaches and proposals for the benefit of gas utilities and its customers.  Uncertainty of support addressing these needs persists while traditional sources of support end.

What kinds of research are we talking about?  This initiative would address codes and standards issues associated with core market applications of natural gas within the residential and commercial markets.  Market interests would include retention of core load and customers as well as market expansion.  Mutual and public benefits of the research, specifically to the gas utility industry and its consumers, would be stressed.  Major consumer benefits would include cost-effective energy efficiency, appliance safety, and health.  Research would support codes and standards activities in model codes, energy efficiency standards, end use health and safety.  Specific research projects would be selected by participating utilities.

Who would do the research?  The proposed initiative would raise funding for research to be conducted by qualified technical research organizations including specialized technical firms, consultants, and research organizations, including GTI.  Consortium participants would be involved in the solicitation and selection of research organizations.  Research contracts would be typically awarded on competitive basis.  Research would be managed through technical staff and resources at AGA initially.

 

Why should my company fund such an activity?  Participation helps maintain critical technical activities supporting end use codes and standards and meeting a strategic gas industry need for current core and future markets.  Without direct company participation in this or an equivalent voluntary program, continued support of codes and standards research is unlikely.  Depending upon the sources of funds available, the activity can benefit participants by minimizing regulatory risk through the use of collaborative funding and emphasis on consumer benefits of efficiency, safety, and health.  Participation allows companies to leverage funds through collaborative activities while allowing leadership in directing technical work on key issues of concern to the participating companies.  The participants' leadership role in direction of research, direct access to work and detailed results, and interaction with other participating utilities and users of the research offer distinct advantages to participants over non-participants.

 

What happens next?  Companies interested in participating in the Consortium are invited to contact Mr. Ted A. Williams, AGA Director of Codes, Standards, and Technical Support.  Letters of intention to participate in the Consortium must be received by AGA (c/o Mr. Williams) no later than October 15, 2003.  Formal participating agreements and the Consortium operation plan will be mailed by AGA shortly thereafter. Following an initial meeting of participants in December 2003, research activities will be scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2004. 

 

Contact:            Ted A. Williams

Director, Codes, Standards and Technical Support

American Gas Association

Telephone:  202-824-7313

Fax:  202-824-9123

Email:  twilliams@aga.org


 


[1] Gas Research Institute (GRI) calculations prepared for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) showed that codes and standards research benefits account for approximately 10% of GRI's total program benefits and approximately 23% of GRI's End Use Program benefits from 1994 to 1998.  Over that period, codes and standards research costs represented less than 2% of the GRI budget.

 

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