What's New at NGA?

October 22, 2020
FERC Releases Winter Energy Market Outlook
On October 15, staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) presented the report: "Winter Energy Market and Reliability Assessments." Among its observations:
  • "Energy markets this spring and summer were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as demand for natural gas, crude oil and electricity declined and prices in all three markets dropped; however, all three sectors have begun to recover. Expected additions and retirements in net winter generating capacity will continue recent years' trends of increasing gas and renewable capacity with decreasing net capacity of coal and nuclear plants."
  • "Electric and natural gas markets are expected to be constrained in the Northeast, while California anticipates over-supply conditions in the electric market and potential congestion in the natural gas market this winter. Weather forecasts for the winter are showing the potential for above normal temperatures for much of the U.S.; the exception is the Northwest which is expected to see below normal temperatures."

Look for further details online:
https://ferc.gov/news-events/news/ferc-staff-presents-report-20202021-winter-energy-market-and-reliability

U.S. EIA Releases Winter Fuels Outlook; Natural Gas Projected to be Most Affordable Home Heating Option in the Northeast and U.S.
On October 6, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its "Winter Fuels Outlook." Among the observations are:
  • "Compared with last winter, EIA forecasts natural gas expenditures will increase by 6%, electricity by 7%, and propane by 14%. Home heating oil expenditures in EIA's forecast fall by 10%, driven primarily by a combination of low crude oil prices and high distillate fuel oil supplies heading into the winter."
  • "EIA generally expects more space heating demand this winter compared with last winter based on forecasts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that indicate colder winter temperatures. U.S. average heating degree days in this forecast are 5% higher than last winter. In addition, EIA expects that ongoing 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) mitigation efforts and more people working and attending school at home will contribute to higher levels of home heating use this winter than in previous years."
  • "EIA estimates that total U.S. working natural gas in storage ended September at more than 3.8 trillion cubic feet (Tcf), 12% more than the five-year (2015-19) average. In the forecast, EIA expects inventories to be more than 4.0 Tcf on October 31, which would be a record high."
  • EIA data shows that there are over 1 million new homes heating with natural gas in the Northeast since 2012, and about 1 million fewer homes heating with oil.
  • EIA projects natural gas home heating in the Northeast to cost less on average this winter than homes heating with heating oil, propane or electricity.

Look for further details online: https://www.eia.gov/outlooks/steo/

NOAA Issues Winter Weather Forecast
On October 15, NOAA issued its winter weather forecast for the U.S. It "favors warmer, drier conditions across the southern tier of the U.S., and cooler, wetter conditions in the North, thanks in part to an ongoing La Nina. Forecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center - a division of the National Weather Service - are also closely monitoring persistent drought during the winter months ahead, with more than 45% of the continental U.S. now experiencing drought." Look for further details online:
https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/us-winter-outlook-cooler-north-warmer-south-with-ongoing-la-nina

Franklyn D. Reynolds Named to Lead Avangrid Networks Companies in Connecticut and Massachusetts
On October 20, AVANGRID announced the appointment of Franklyn D. ("Frank") Reynolds to lead Avangrid Networks' gas and electric companies in Connecticut and Massachusetts, effective immediately. As President of UIL Holdings Corporation, Reynolds will oversee United Illuminating, Southern Connecticut Gas and Connecticut Natural Gas in Connecticut, as well as Berkshire Gas in Massachusetts. With a total of more than 1,500 employees, the companies provide electricity and natural gas services to nearly 765,000 customers in the two states. Reynolds succeeds Avangrid Networks President & CEO Anthony Marone, who continued to lead the UIL companies after he was promoted to President & CEO of Avangrid Networks in 2019. Reynolds will report directly to Marone. Reynolds, a retired Connecticut Army National Guard Major who has worked at AVANGRID and its predecessor companies for more than 20 years, had been President of Berkshire Gas since January 2019, a position he held simultaneously with his role as Avangrid Network's Vice President of Gas Integration, to which he was appointed a year earlier. A Connecticut native, Reynolds holds a Master's in Business Administration from the University of New Haven and a bachelor's degree in industrial technology from Central Connecticut State University. He has completed executive course work at Iberdrola's School of Management, the Ross School of Business and at Wharton.

Census Data for 2019 Shows Strong Home Heating Share for Gas in Region - 55% of Northeast Region
In mid-September, the U.S. Census Bureau released updated data for house heating fuels by state, for the year 2019 (1-year estimates). The updated natural gas shares by state are: Connecticut, 36%; Maine, 8%; Massachusetts, 52%; New Hampshire, 21%; New Jersey, 75%; New York, 61%; Pennsylvania, 51%; Rhode Island, 55%; and Vermont, 19%. Natural gas equates to 55% of the total 9-state home heating market. NGA's summary of the home heating fuel share by state based on Census data is available here: http://www.northeastgas.org/mkt_trends_natgas_region.php

ACEEE Release Paper on Natural Gas Efficiency
On October 13, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) released a paper on natural gas efficiency programs in the U.S. The paper, called "Sustaining Utility Natural Gas Efficiency Programs in a Time of Low Gas Prices," documents how utilities in leading states across the nation are continuing to provide cost-effective natural gas energy efficiency programs. Look for further details online:
https://www.aceee.org/white-paper/2020/10/sustaining-utility-natural-gas-efficiency-programs-time-low-gas-prices

NGA Launches Learning Channel
In September, NGA launched online the "NGA Learning Channel." The Learning Channel is a video platform which allows NGA to deliver training videos to members for use in the classroom or in the field. Our associate member companies provide a range of materials and services in support of the natural gas industry. They are helping us make available on this channel a virtual library of resources to educate and train personnel. There are currently dozens of training videos on the Learning Channel and the list is growing. As well, NGA's Training and Qualification Committee continues to work with NGA staff to identify potential videos to assist in the training of personnel. Look for further details online: https://www.northeastgas.org/learning_channel.php

Call Before You Dig - Dig Safely!
The Common Ground Alliance (CGA) and its stakeholders remind homeowners and contractors to call 811 before they dig to prevent injuries, property damage and inconvenient outages. More information is at: https://call811.com/

In addition to the national 811 service, NGA reminds its members - and the general public - that each of the Northeast states has a local "One Call Center."

NGA has links to the call centers in the Northeast region here: https://www.northeastgas.org/call_centers.php

Utilize these important resources - be aware - and be safe!

New England Governors Call for Modernized Regional Electric Grid
On October 14, five of the six New England Governors released a joint statement "calling for reforms to ISO-NE, saying the RTO is frustrating their efforts to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions," as reported by RTO Insider. On October 16, the New England States Committee for Electricity (NESCOE), which reports to the Governors, released a vision statement on the future clean electricity grid, the first paragraph of which reads:

  • "The New England States' vision, expressed through the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) for a clean, affordable, and reliable 21st century regional electric grid necessitates significant changes in three core segments of our shared energy system: Wholesale Electricity Market Design, Transmission System Planning, and ISO New England (ISO-NE) Governance. The New England States will initiate a public process, supported by NESCOE, to inform the development of any proposals related to the Vision."

The NESCOE statement can be found here:
http://nescoe.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/NESCOE_Vision_Statement_Oct2020.pdf

NGA Continues to Monitor Coronavirus Situation
The Northeast Gas Association (NGA) continues to monitor the impact of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Our priority remains the health of our staff, our industry partners and members, and the general public. NGA's update on its activities in response to the pandemic can be found here: https://www.northeastgas.org/covid_19.php

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) is maintaining the latest information on this disease on its web site: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Tom Kiley Op-Ed on Beneficial Role of Natural Gas Appears in "Commonwealth Magazine"
On May 29, an op-ed by Tom Kiley of NGA appeared in "Commonwealth Magazine," highlighting the value of natural gas to the economy and environment of Massachusetts. Kiley stated in his opening paragraph: "Natural gas remains the preferred energy choice of homeowners and businesses across the Commonwealth. It is the most affordable, reliable and flexible energy choice, and it has played an important role in meeting our region's aggressive carbon reduction goals. Especially at this time of economic uncertainty, it remains the most economical and stable option that helps keep energy bills low." The article is posted online:
https://commonwealthmagazine.org/opinion/dont-knock-natural-gas/