Natural Gas Utilities: Building and Enhancing an Advanced Energy Delivery System
Washington, D.C. – Advances in American technology for natural gas production have unlocked an abundance of this domestic clean energy source which has contributed to huge savings for residential and commercial customers. America’s natural gas utilities are using this opportunity to continue to improve our nation’s natural gas infrastructure, and they are working with local regulators to develop innovative models for making these capital investments possible.
“Natural gas is a key to our energy future and America’s natural gas utilities are upgrading our delivery system to meet this growing demand,” said Dave McCurdy, President and CEO of the American Gas Association. “There is a tremendous opportunity for consumers and our nation as a whole through greater use of natural gas and we see a future where natural gas is the foundation fuel that heats our homes, runs our vehicles, generates power and supports other forms of renewable energy. We are building and continually improving our infrastructure to deliver on this promise.”
Maintaining the safety and reliability of the nation’s natural gas pipeline system is the number one priority for AGA and its member utilities. Utilities invest billions of dollars annually in maintenance, safety upgrades and operating expenses.
In June, the American Gas Association released a new “Natural Gas Rate Round-up,” a periodic update on innovative rate designs. The report highlights several states that are on the cutting edge of innovative rate designs, working with their natural gas utilities to build and maintain an advanced energy delivery system while continuing to deliver natural gas at affordable prices.
Georgia was an early adopter of infrastructure cost tracking mechanisms, replacing 2,300 miles of natural gas pipelines over a span of 15 years. The state worked with a local natural gas utility on an innovative rate design to upgrade the backbone of the distribution system and liquefied natural gas facilities to improve system reliability and create a platform for economic growth in the state. Further program expansions allowed an extension of pipeline facilities to serve customers without access to natural gas and to create new development corridors to help spur economic growth.
Ohio is enabling upgrades of their natural gas pipelines while keeping an eye on the bills their citizens receive. There is a large volume of pipeline replacement taking place in the state, but, under the current plan, the rates customers see are only allowed to increase by $1 per month for five years. At the end of the five year period, rates will stabilize at approximately $60 more per year than when the replacements began. The gradual increase enables Ohio utilities to modernize their infrastructure and prevent rate shock for customers.
Natural gas pipelines in Utah are relatively new, but they are getting an early start on replacements and upgrades. These upgrades provide customers with higher pressure service which allows the use of more energy efficient applications. Replacing main lines also allows addition of safety measures, such as lines that can be monitored through the use of robotics, automatic shut-off valves and excess flow valves.
You can read more about these programs and what other states are doing to modernize their natural gas infrastructure here.