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Rising Natural Gas Prices due to Cold Weather

Cold weather brings many things: snow, cautious travels, and rising natural gas prices. The colder the weather, the higher natural gas consumption. About half of the households in the U.S use natural gas as their primary heating fuel, so many businesses and private homes turn their indoor heating on as the outdoor weather gets colder.

With natural gas having limited short-term alternatives, prices reflect the changes in supply as well as demand. A decrease in the supply will push prices up, and most likely discourage production and sales from storage inventories. An increase in the supply will do the exact opposite.

The winter weather will raise the demand for heating, as the summer will bring the need for cooling. This winter has brought many spontaneous storms and unpredictable weather, which results in even higher prices for natural gas, as there was not enough time for the supply to react.

With the cold temperatures this season, it’s important to keep an eye out for wellhead freeze-offs. What exactly is a freeze-off? The natural gas coming up the well pipe includes moisture. When the temperatures outside drop below freezing, the moisture will freeze at the surface, if not properly insulated.

Thankfully, natural gas has kept up with the severe winter storms this season through their consistent production. Hopefully Groundhog’s Day will reveal that we only have a few short weeks to go!

Atlanta Gas Light Pipeline

Quiet neighborhood

The Atlanta Gas Light pipeline allows natural gas providers such as Walton Gas to deliver efficient and affordable natural gas to customers across Georgia and several of its bordering states. Under the operation of the natural gas wholesaler Atlanta Gas Light, the pipeline delivers reliable natural gas to customers across 243 communities across the state of Georgia, supplying more than 1.6 million homes, businesses, and industrial facilities with clean, efficient energy. 

The Atlanta Gas Light pipeline has a rich history going back over 150 years, when the Atlanta Gas Light Company began operations. Today, the pipeline is the heart of the south-east US's largest natural gas distribution network. The pipeline has also stood at the forefront of innovation and renewal efforts, with the recent completion of a 15-year Pipeline Replacement Program; one of the first comprehensive gas pipeline replacement efforts in the nation, the program replaced nearly 3,000 miles of bare steel pipe across Georgia.

In recent years, efforts have begun to renew the pipeline infrastructure, through measures such as Georgia STRIDE, a multi-phase project which endeavors to upgrade and expand the pipeline to meet the growth of the rapidly-growing Atlanta metropolitan area. There is also the Vintage Plastic Replacement Program, which endeavors to replace nearly 800 miles of aging plastic pipe installed in the 60s, 70s, and early 80s with newer, longer-lasting, safer plastic pipes. Other efforts aim to make the pipeline more effective in delivering energy during peak hours, and to locations furthest removed from the natural supply points which fuel the pipeline.

Proposed Pipeline In Georgia

Above ground oil pipeline

Spectra Energy Corporation and several partners, including NextEra Energy Inc. and Duke Energy, are currently attempting to secure permission to build a new $3 billion, 516-mile natural gas pipeline across Alabama, Georgia, and Florida, with the goal of providing a superior transportation route for power generation by Florida Power and Light and Duke Energy of Florida. 

The pipeline, known tentatively as the Sabal Trail project, is expected to increase the reliability of energy delivery within Florida and offer a positive impact to the economy of the states it passes through by providing jobs, increased tax revenues, and other benefits. The line will transport approximately 1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day.

Despite the potential benefits of the project, concerns have been raised from a number of groups and individuals, with particular attention drawn to the pipeline’s route through several low-income towns. It’s been suggested that the noise of compressor stations, risk of air emissions, and potential for leaks would overburden communities already facing unusually high rates of cancer tied in part to the presence of numerous hazardous waste facilities and pollutant-generating businesses in the region. 

The split on the issue extends to two federal agencies, with FERC stating that such concerns are without merit and giving a tentative all-clear - a position at odds with EPA concerns about proximity to fresh water supplies. The issue has drawn commentary from many community figures including church leaders, congressmen, and others. The public comment period on the Sabal Trail project remains open through the middle of December, giving those potentially impacted room to make their sentiments and thoughts on the project heard.

More Than A Gas Company

Formal hand writing

Oil companies have a definite social responsibility to provide reliable and affordable energy in a safe way that protects the environment and allows for human progress. But as the issue of social responsibility is being raised more often in the business world across all industries, it's becoming clear oil companies need to do more in and for the local communities in which they are privileged to operate.

At Walton Gas, we take our commitment to our community and our social obligations seriously, and one of the ways we demonstrate this is through our work with local charities.

Camp Twin Lakes

We are proud to support Camp Twin Lakes, which provides camp experiences for children in Georgia who are disabled, seriously ill or experiencing another life challenge. This organization offers camps in the summer and weekend retreats over all seasons at its medically-outfitted and accessible camp locations, a daycamp and its hospital “Camp-To-Go” program.

The Salvation Army

Walton Gas supports the globally recognized Salvation Army, in operation since 1856. The Salvation Army runs services and programs aimed at helping the most disadvantaged members of our community and is known for its holiday drives.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation

The Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Foundation, one of the charities we help, works to improve and make medical services more accessible for Georgia's children and teens. From launching wellness initiatives to providing money for medical care for children, this non-profit is providing services to one of the most needed areas.

Walton EMC Natural Gas Donates $36,000 to Local Charities

Donation from Walton Gas

Last month, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Tennessee Vols. The Bulldogs were not the only victors in this football game. A few Georgia charities also won big thanks to $36,000 in donations made by Walton EMC Natural Gas. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta received $17,000, Camp Twin Lakes received $10,000 and $9,000 went to The Salvation Army. These donations were funded by Walton’s 2013 Kickin’ It for Charity and Big Gift campaigns.

In this year’s Kickin’ It For Charity campaign, Walton EMC Natural Gas will continue to donate $500 towards these three charities every time the Bulldogs scores a field goal. At the end of the season, the money is divided between the organizations based on the number of votes cast. Take part in the Kickin’ It for Charity campaign by voting for your favorite charity.

Walton EMC is also simultaneously running the Big Gift campaign. All new customers who sign up for natural gas services will be able to choose between a $25 bill credit or a $50 donation to their choice of the three charities.

“At Walton Natural Gas, we are focused on giving back. The Big Gift campaign demonstrates just how generous our customers can be,” said Savannah Chandler, Walton EMC Natural Gas communications representative. “We hope to have even larger checks for the charities next year.”

Walton EMC Natural Gas currently serves more than 70,000 customers throughout Georgia. Walton EMC also received the highest numerical score among residential natural gas service providers in Georgia in the proprietary J.D. Power & Associates 2011-2013 Georgia Natural Gas Retailer Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. Learn how you can get better service and pay it forward with your “Big Gift” by making the switch to Walton EMC Natural Gas today.

Fixed vs Variable Rate Natural Gas

Gas meter

If you’ve recently looked into switching natural gas providers or just ways to save more money on your utility bill, you may have uncovered that there is more than one kind of natural gas plan available. Which natural gas plan is right for you: fixed or variable rate? What is the difference between the two anyway?

The biggest difference between these two plans is that variable rate will fluctuate each month in relation to market conditions like demand, seasonal conditions and more. In contrast, a fixed rate plan allows you to lock in a particular rate for several months.

Variable Rates

So which plan Is a better deal for you? It’s hard to say with absolute certainty because there is no way to predict how much variable prices will fluctuate each month. Pricing history can be used to help you anticipate how much you’ll pay for natural gas, but it is merely a tool for estimation and can change on a yearly basis. Last year, a customer on the variable rate plan paid $1.02 per therm while a customer in a ­fixed rate agreement paid 66 cents per therm. For this year in particular, a fixed rate plan ended up being a better deal.

Fixed Rates

If you decide to sign up for a fixed rate plan, the price you pay each month will be locked in for the length of the contract, which usually ranges from six months to a year. When you sign up for a fixed rate, Walton EMC Natural Gas will purchase the gas that you will use in the future at the current rate. This is how we are able to provide you with a constant rate. This is the biggest advantage of a fixed rate plan- you already know how much you are going to pay.

Still not sure which natural gas plan is right for you? For more information about fixed or variable rate plans, contact Walton EMC Natural Gas.

Walton EMC Earns Third Consecutive J.D. Power Award

Walton EMC - J.D. Power and Associates

When it comes to power and energy, Walton EMC is unrivaled. For a third consecutive year in a row, the company has garnered the J.D. Power Award for natural gas retail and customer satisfaction.

The J.D. Power Awards are a prominent ranking of companies within a variety of industries, including energy and natural gas. The organization has been conducting worldwide quality and customer satisfaction research for over 45 years. J.D. Power is one of the top U.S. and global research companies.

For this particular award, six factors are taken into consideration: corporate citizenship, communications, price, billing and payment, enrollment/renewal and customer service.  The study is based on responses from customers who have used the services of nine different natural gas retailers across the state of Georgia. This assures that the responses are indicative of a typical buying experience. 2,944 customers responded in the 2013 study and the results found a clear winner: Walton EMC.

“Walton EMC has the largest percentage of customers (58) who report having heard from their gas provider with an average frequency of three times in the last three months. It is no surprise that communication is a key factor in overall customer satisfaction, but it’s not just communicating for the sake of communication, it’s the message and delivery mode that matter,” says J.D. Power.

Although the industry average score was 692, Walton EMC earned the highest score of 731, 39 points above the average. Additionally, Walton EMC secured a JDPower.com Power Circle Rating of five, making it the only Georgia marketer to do so.

The consecutive wins motivate Walton EMC to better their services. “The fact that we rank highest doesn’t mean we stop improving. Our next goal is four years in a row,” said CEO Ronnie Lee. “Receiving this prestigious award for the third time has been just as exciting as the first,” adds Allen Powers, the Natural Gas Director. “J.D. Power is a recognized and respected name that we are glad to be a part of.”

With the future in mind, Walton EMC strives to improve year after year. As the leading natural gas provider in Georgia, they have and will continue to meet consumers’ natural gas needs throughout the state.

Benefits of Cooking with Natural Gas

Pan on a gas stove

One of the most versatile and valuable of all energy resources is natural gas. From heating and electric to fertilizers and clean transportation, natural gas can be used in numerous ways. Chefs and cooks are particularly fond of the energy source in their range cooktops. There are many benefits to cooking with natural gas stoves rather than electric stoves.

Why You Should be Cooking with Natural Gas

 

Precision and Speed

Control is obviously an important aspect of cooking.  Something that is too hot or too cold or on the stove for too long or too short can mean the difference between a delicious entrée and a tasteless disaster. Fortunately, cooking on gas stoves makes heat much more controllable. Natural gas stoves change heat immediately and precisely, whereas the heat change is gradual on an electric. The gas stove heats up faster as well.

Safety

Choosing to cook with natural gas is also a safer alternative because gas stoves create less heat than electric ones. Your kitchen and stovetop will be cooler, making you less subject to accidental burns. Fortunately, the food will still keep the higher temperatures and will cook just as fast.

Convenience

In the past igniting a gas stove was a burden and could often be dangerous because a match would be used to light the pilot light. However, modern gas cooking stoves have electronic ignitions which require far less work and are hazard-free. Additionally, without a constantly burning pilot light, there are neither fumes nor gas waste.

Dependability

Lastly, natural gas range cooktops can be advantageous in a power outage. You would not be able to cook on an electric range if the power goes out, but if you have enough natural gas or propane, cooking in the dark will be no problem.

Overall, natural gas cooking is valuable due to its speed, control, safety and dependability. Whether you are a professional chef or a cook at home, choosing gas over electric has proven to be the most effective means of meal making.

Rumors of Natural Gas Inventory Decline

icicles hanging off a metal pipe

An unseasonably cold winter has many implications, one being the increased demand for natural gas to heat homes across the country. Due to this drastic demand, it is no surprise that working gas in storage is much lower than last year. The U.S. Energy Information Administration recently reported that natural gas totaled 1.44 trillion cubic feet, while the same period last year totaled 2.42 trillion cubic feet. These low storage numbers continue to drop below the EIA’s five-year calculations.

Stocks and natural gas prices have been affected by this inventory decline. Consumers were forced to pay a five-year high of $6.15 per billion BTUs (British thermal units) in late February. In just a week’s time, the prices had increased almost $.50. Large natural gas producers in the United States are seeing the effects as well. Exxon Mobil Corporation was up about 0.8%, Chesapeake Energy Corp. was up 0.2% and EOG Resources Inc. was up 0.9%. Additionally, The U.S. Natural Gas Fun, which tracks spot prices, was down 0.6%, whereas The Market Vector Oil Services ETF, which includes major drillers and service companies, was up 0.4%.

However, the anticipation of warmer temperatures will lessen prices. Stephen Schork, President of Schork Group Inc., a consulting group in Pennsylvania explains, “This is a pretty good sign the run-up has run its course. Demand is going to remain strong, but we are at the end of the season and prices aren’t reacting the way they would have a month ago. At these prices, production is going to be very strong.”  The beginning of March marked the first monthly decline since September and futures dropped 25 percent, one of the biggest one-week price drops since 1996.

Although this winter was one of highs and lows, the spring forecasts look promising and has again led to a decline in natural gas futures.

US Natural Gas Reserves

Oil wells

Natural gas is an ever-changing topic of discussion. With new discoveries, new technology and constant progression it has become big part of our economic focus. The United States and nations around the world are becoming extremely innovative in the process of finding and utilizing natural gas.

The U.S. economy is benefiting greatly from the technological advancements in the natural gas industry. As of 2012, 334 trillion cubic feet of proved reserves of natural gas make North America the fourth largest of other nations in comparison. There are several aspects that come into consideration when the natural gas composites can be declared proven.

There is no question that a large number is associated with the natural gas that is proven in the United States. That number, 334 trillion, would not be possible without the economic stability that is involved in the discovery and execution of obtaining the fossil fuel. The benefit of the gas needs to be worth more than the cost of drilling in order to confirm the end result is proven natural gas.

The newer technologies that are being implemented in the industry are helping eliminate a lot of the cost factors in the drilling process. Technology has allowed the United States to be more efficient and promote growth in a motivated nation. Better-equipped machinery grants the engineering of the natural gas the boost it needs to increase that margin between the cost and the benefit.  As a result the U.S. will see more successful and stable economic conditions that are favorable for drilling.

The expanding knowledge of the detection and consumption of natural gas is in fact a contributing factor to the United States rank among nations in assessment. The economy reflects within the numbers reported in the trillions of proven natural gas in our possession. While it is a fast growing theme around the world, the United States appears to be comfortable with the pace.