Natural Gas Associations Band Together to Expand National Mutual Aid Program
Washington, D.C. – Last week, the American Gas Association (AGA), American Public Gas Association (APGA), Northeast Gas Association (NGA), Southern Gas Association (SGA) and the MEA Energy Association (MEA) announced the creation of a new, expanded National Mutual Aid Program.
“This Agreement will enhance the collaboration across the natural gas industry with the understanding that our combined resources can quickly restore comfort for communities that are hit by disasters, ensuring Americans have the energy they need and expect for comfortable homes, warm food and hot showers,” Karen Harbert, President and CEO of the American Gas Association, said. “Our members are committed to the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas and are proud to assist other utilities and communities in their time of need.”
When a disaster hits a region, the need to restore service can sometimes exceed the capacity of regional resources, and this is exactly the time when the AGA Mutual Assistance Program becomes so valuable. It is at this point that utilities outside the affected region can step and assist in the recovery.
Capitalizing on lessons learned from the American Gas Association’s Mutual Assistance Program, created in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and similar APGA, NGA and SGA initiatives, this voluntary program allows natural gas utilities from across all of the participating associations to quickly respond to emergencies in a coordinated, efficient and timely manner.
The need to develop a uniform national mutual aid Agreement across the Associations was a key lesson learned from the Merrimack Valley incident in September 2018, which was the last time national mutual aid was required. Situations in which the program may be used include natural disasters, equipment malfunctions, accidents or other rare occasions where widespread natural gas service is interrupted.
For example, AGA’s mutual assistance program played a significant role in providing supplies, personnel, materials and equipment during the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, where crews from natural gas companies throughout the country helped restore services for residential homes and businesses across the Northeast.
The National Mutual Aid Agreement will take effect January 1, 2021 and remain in place until December 31, 2025. The new Agreement will supersede the existing AGA and NGA/SGA Agreements.