New York, NY – John Somerhalder, chairman of the American Gas Association (AGA) and chairman, president and CEO of AGL Resources, yesterday met with the New York Society of Security Analysts (NYSSA) to discuss the outlook for natural gas demand and supply, as well as the issues regarding investment in the natural gas utility sector.
Somerhalder said that the natural gas supply picture has never been brighter. “Currently, we have about 100 years of natural gas supply,” he said. He noted that this bright picture is reflected in the stable affordable prices that natural gas customers currently are enjoying.
In his remarks, Somerhalder also focused on demand growth.
“At a time when America’s domestic supply of natural gas is at an all time high, it is critical for our industry to explore new market opportunities based on the clear price, environmental and energy efficiency advantages of the direct use of natural gas,” he said.
Somerhalder pointed out that the transportation market is an especially attractive demand growth opportunity.
“Displacing oil with domestically abundant natural gas by expanding our use of natural gas vehicles can save money, reduce green house gas emissions and lessen our dependence on foreign oil,” Somerhalder added.
Somerhalder also discussed AGA’s legislative and regulatory priorities for 2011. Chief among them is pipeline safety. AGA is working with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) on reauthorization of an effective, flexible and cost effective Pipeline Safety Act. Furthermore, AGA is working with DOT and state regulators on implementing a sound Distribution Integrity Management Program.
In addition, Somerhalder told the audience that natural gas utilities are a solid investment opportunity.
“Natural gas utilities have a consistent long-term track record of creating shareholder value,” he said. “They focus on fundamentals; they have healthy balance sheets and positive earning trends. And thanks to the abundant supply of natural gas, utilities are now focusing on growing demand.”
Somerhalder added that the recent two-year extension of the 15-percent dividend tax rates will make dividend-paying companies such as natural utilities an even more attractive investment.
“We are especially pleased with this victory, which AGA worked very hard to achieve,” Somerhalder added.
“The bottom line is that America needs clean and abundant energy and natural gas utilities can meet that need. With all that natural gas has to offer, this is an exciting time for the industry and I am thrilled to capitalize on the many opportunities we have before us to provide safe, reliable and clean energy solutions to our customers.”