According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, the conversion of the nation's heavy-duty truck fleet from diesel to natural gas has stalled. Two reasons dominate-the higher price for new natural gas vehicles and increased efficiency of new diesel engines.
Do you have a customer who has recently done a significant energy efficiency or renewable project that you would like to recognize? IAMU would like to help recognize these customers for their efforts in conjunction with the IAMU Energy Conference October 1-2 in Des Moines. It’s a good opportunity to recognize and publicize a valued customer in your community. Based upon your nominations, IAMU will select up to five customers, state-wide, to be recognized for this award.
After Labor Day, Congress will return from its month-long August recess. As the November elections rapidly approach, one focus for Congress will be to pass funding legislation before the end of the fiscal year on September 30, or the government will shut down. The House of Representatives has passed six of 12 appropriations bills that fund the operation of government, while the Senate has passed zero. In order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress will have to pass either an omnibus appropriations bill, one giant funding bill, or a continuing resolution (CR), which will continue funding the government at fiscal year 2014 levels. At this point, it appears that the more likely scenario will be a move to pass a CR.
While there is not much time remaining in the congressional calendar, there are several timely legislative and regulatory items that the American Public Gas Association (APGA) is currently working on that will impact public natural gas systems, or in some cases, public power systems that utilize natural gas for generation. A few of these issues are identified below.
The Department of Energy (DOE) has received over 40 applications to export domestic LNG from the contiguous United States to free trade agreement (FTA) or non-FTA nations. To date, the total export capacity applied for is 39.31 Bcf/d and 35.95 Bcf/d to FTA and non-FTA nations, respectively. The sum total of these applications equates to approximately 50 percent of U.S. natural gas production. APGA has taken a position in opposition to the export of LNG that it will harm consumers by increasing the price of natural gas in the U.S. and squanders a chance to reduce our energy dependence, arguing, among other things.
Recently, DOE issued a final decision regarding its process for reviewing LNG export applications. Specifically, DOE will now make final public interest determinations on an LNG export application only after completion of the review required by environmental laws and regulations that are included in the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Conducting a NEPA review can be a costly and sometimes lengthy process. DOE also announced plans to undertake a new economic study in order to gain a better understanding of how potential LNG exports between 12 and 20 Bcf/day could affect the public interest. APGA supported these actions.
The House passed legislation (H.R. 6) in June that would require DOE to approve or deny any export application within 30 days. APGA opposed this legislation. Similar legislation has been introduced in the Senate, but has yet to move.
Federal Reserve advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) on the physical commodity activities of financial holding companies: The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System is considering actions that would impact the activities of large banks—referred to as financial holding companies in an ANPR—as they pertain to the trading of physical commodities, including natural gas. Specifically, the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System has described natural gas and other energy commodities as “environmentally sensitive commodities” and implied that contact with natural gas and other environmentally sensitive commodities could expose financial holding companies to unwarranted risks.
Given that many public natural gas systems utilize financial holding companies as counterparties for a number of transactions—including natural gas prepays—unduly limiting or preventing these entities from engaging in the physical natural gas business would harm market liquidity for public natural gas systems. This could potentially increase physical transaction costs, and threaten the viability of natural gas prepayment transactions. APGA has expressed concern regarding the implementation of regulations that would prohibit, or inappropriately restrict, financial holding companies from engaging in physical natural gas commodity transactions. The timing of a proposed regulation on this issue is unclear, but APGA anticipates that a regulation will be released at some point in the next year.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a 24-page order that outlines how broadband providers can apply for funding to bring broadband to unserved rural areas. In July, the FCC announced that $100 million will be made available under the program, which is designed to provide incentives for the deployment of high-speed internet and voice services to census blocks that are currently unserved.
The IAMU Underground Electric Distribution Workshop will be held September 17-19 at the IAMU Office and Training Complex in Ankeny. The annual event bring together utility workers, instructors, and product presenters.
A new networking and education event has been set for IAMU members with broadband utilities. The Fall Broadband Meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at the IAMU Office and Training Complex in Ankeny.
On August 6, 2014, The IUB issued an order in the payment plan agreement Notice of Inquiry, NOI-2014-0003. The IUB opened the Inquiry in March to collect information from electric and gas utilities in regard to bill payment agreements. The August Order requests that all utilities attend the IUB Customer Service Fall meetings to discuss specific rules and questions regarding payment plans and reiterates the IUB rules.
Persons wishing to attend are asked to email their registration request to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Jane Whetstone at 515-725-7358. A schedule of the meetings is listed below.
The Iowa Association for Energy Efficiency’s (IAEE) annual Iowa Energy Summit will be held Thursday, September 25th with networking events the evening of Wednesday, September 24th at the Prairie Meadows Events and Conference Center in Altoona, IA. This is Iowa’s premier conference for utilities and energy efficiency professionals.
A report issued last week shows that energy efficiency is the least-cost strategy to limit the growth of electric rates in Bloomfield.
On August 13, 2014, at the request of the Bloomfield City Council, the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities (IAMU) presented Bloomfield residents with the results of a study IAMU conducted as part of an Energy Independent Community Grant funded in part by from the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA).
The 2014 IAMU Natural Gas OQ (Operator Qualification) workshop is rapidly approaching. The two-day event will be held August 27 & 28, 2014 at the IAMU Training and Office Complex in Ankeny.