Natural gas has been used for more than 100 years in Canada as an affordable, clean, versatile, safe and reliable fuel. Today, it heats and cools homes and businesses, generates electricity, fuels vehicles and powers appliances and devices across the country. Looking to the future, natural gas will be able to affordably and efficiently meet more residential, institutional and industrial energy needs.
The Canadian Gas Association (CGA) is the voice of Canada’s natural gas delivery industry and its more than 65 members are distribution companies, transmission companies, equipment manufacturers and other service providers. Timothy Egan has served as the association’s president and CEO since September 2010.
“We have an educational role and a duty to keep all our customers and the broader Canadian public apprised of what’s happening in the energy market,” Egan said. “The dramatic changes in the supply picture of natural gas have had a big impact on prices for the commodity. Natural gas has always been affordable … it is even more affordable now.”
According to CGA, the affordability of natural gas opens the door to a host of innovative technology applications facilitating things like the incorporation of renewable technologies into electricity grids; the broader use of combined heat and power technologies; lower emission engines for transportation; and LNG or compressed natural gas in northern Canada.
“Affordable energy has always been a key driver for economic development in Canada and the United States,” Egan said. “We’re in the midst of a period of rising electricity and gasoline prices while natural gas prices have fallen. So how can we use natural gas to drive more economic development and improve productivity, which are so key to our societal well being.”
Canada’s energy mix
Natural gas has a central place in Canada’s energy mix, meeting 30 percent of the country’s energy needs. The majority of natural gas customers (more than 95 percent) are homes and businesses using natural gas as an affordable choice for various energy applications, whereas the largest natural gas consumers are industrial facilities that have energy as a major input cost. Currently, CGA member companies have more than $14.5 billion invested in Canada’s natural gas transmission and distribution systems. In 2011, they invested just over $2.98 billion, which included:
• Spending just over $2 billion on the operation and maintenance of the natural gas distribution system.
• Investment of a further $957 million in new capital and system improvement projects.
Challenges and insight
One challenge CGA is facing is getting people to think more about how natural gas can be used for broader applications. Egan says it is also a challenge to get decision makers to think about an energy system, not just one part of the system.
“Whenever there’s an energy discussion, it almost always defaults to one piece of the energy system like electricity or transportation fuels,” Egan said. “This thinking needs to change as society finds it more and more expensive and difficult to build energy infrastructure, and as we try to incorporate more diversity into our energy supply mix. Can we better integrate it with electric and transportation infrastructure? The new market realities of very abundant supply and affordable pricing for natural gas are helping people consider these kinds of ideas.”
For more information, visit www.cga.ca, email email@example.com or call (613) 748-0057 Ext. 341.