Welcome to Culver Natural Gas Currents—your monthly e-source for industry news and product information, including the latest educational and promotional items, trends, tips, stories, and events.
This month, learn about trending Power-to-Gas technology, ideas for generating more bang for your outreach buck, best practices, and product ideas for your springtime events.
Culver Company’s Products Group can help you select or create the right educational and promotional products for your outreach efforts. Be sure to check out Culver Natural Gas Currents each month for your industry product news.
As technology continues to drive evolution of the energy market, the natural gas sector may be affected in unexpected ways. North America and countries throughout Europe are setting more and more aggressive goals for renewable energy use, (US/Canada/Mexico: 50% by 2025; Europe: 27% by 2030). With goals like these, grid scale energy storage technologies are aggressively being explored. Power-to-Gas (P2G) technology is emerging as a viable option and one that will impact the natural gas pipeline directly. While it promises multiple benefits, long-term storage capacity seems to be its unique selling point.
Managing the Nature of the Beast
Renewable energy sources (wind, solar, hydro) are inherently intermittent in their generation. P2G technology offers a potential solution. The technology converts electricity from renewable sources by breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen. The result is a carbon-free hydrogen gas. The hydrogen is then converted to synthetic, renewable methane (via Methanation) and stored to meet variations in energy needs.
The proportion of renewable energy supplying the electric grid will continue to grow. This will make P2G’s ability to deliver long-term storage and rapid response grid balancing only more attractive. Additionally, industry scientists and engineers are encouraged by the fact that once converted, the resulting hydrogen is not only carbon free, but also offers flexibility in its end uses, including electric grid, gas grid, fuel cell, and transportation fuel. Ultimately, this technology will have to prove its profitability versus other fuel types on the open market, but experts see its ability to be efficiently transported through the massive and existing natural gas pipeline as one of the main factors driving its cost effectiveness.
Other forms of energy storage continue to be explored, such as batteries, pumped hydro, and compressed air; however, they suffer by comparison on a number of fronts. Batteries in particular are hindered by their significant capital costs, relatively limited capacity, and short-term storage duration.
Even with its anticipated potential, there is still a way to go before P2G becomes broadly commercialized. Europe has long invested in wind and solar, resulting in an on-going need to manage intermittency and over generation. Specifically, Denmark and Germany have begun testing P2G extensively. Currently, there are 50 P2G pilot projects that have been launched in Europe. In the US, Southern California Gas has begun its own pilot program to research the feasibility of this process.
First US P2G Pilot
Last summer, Southern California Gas began its collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Fuel Cell Research Center (NFCRC) to develop, test, and demonstrate newly designed P2G technologies. This is the first project of its kind in the US.
Thus far, the program has managed to convert surplus solar and wind energy into hydrogen, which can be mixed with natural gas for use in homes or as a fuel for power plants. The next step would be to convert the hydrogen into methane that could be used by residential, commercial, and industrial customers.
“With the extensive storage capacity of natural gas infrastructure, this project will provide important validation of the technical an economic feasibility of carbon-free energy transformation and storage,” said Professor Scott Samuelsen, director of the NFCRC.
Every six minutes, an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811.
National Safe Digging Month was created to remind residents and workers alike that our land contains a complex underground infrastructure of pipelines, wires, and cables. Spring offers the perfect opportunity to promote safe digging practices specifically to field workers and contractors. Utility workers and contractors are expected to have a heightened awareness of the potential dangers of their job, yet excavation damage continues to account for roughly 60 percent of incidents that, unfortunately, can result in serious consequences. Therefore, it’s essential that field technicians, contractors, and subcontractors are reminded to call 811 several days before any digging project and to have the proper protocols at their fingertips when an emergency occurs.
Culver’s Worker Beware product line was developed with this in mind. Brochures and visor and wallet cards deliver critical information in a simple graphic format that workers can carry with them on the job. Our DVDs have specific training modules, like Digging & Excavating and Cranes & Heavy Equipment. Available in English or Spanish, our Worker Beware Dig/Excavation products reinforce training procedures and serve as a quick reference in case of emergency.
This training video teaches excavators proper safety principles and steps to stay safe around underground pipelines. It includes gas pipeline leak recognition and response tips, and emphasizes the prevention of dig-in accidents and damages among subcontractors and contractors. Consider providing this video to one-call public centers, utility locators, and utility workers who would benefit from cross-training on natural gas safety. Preview Worker Beware at www.culverco.com/videos.
Here’s a training video that targets all excavators with proper safety principles and steps to stay safe around underground electric and natural gas hazards. Use this video to help prevent dig-in accidents and damages among subcontractors and contractors, and for one-call programs, utility locators, and cross-training other utility workers. This version is in Spanish for Spanish-speaking workers. Preview the English version at www.culverco.com/videos, or call to request a FREE Spanish preview DVD.
Provide at-a-glance training and emergency response information for busy contractors to keep within easy reach in their trucks on a job site. This bilingual visor card summarizes how to work safely around underground natural gas lines and what to do in the event of contact. Distribute visor cards after a safety presentation or tailgate meeting to make sure at-risk workers have quick access to safety reminders at all times.
Available in English and Spanish, this six-panel brochure explains basic safety procedures for dealing with buried electric and natural gas lines, as well as how to prevent accidents and what to do if a gas or electric line is hit.
This compact reference guide includes a chart of locator mark colors, as well as emergency contact information for the local utility.
All Worker Beware products can be customized to include your company name, logo, and contact information. For additional information about any of our natural gas safety materials, call us at 800-428-5837, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.culverco.com/catalog.
As with most industries, the companies that make up the natural gas industry must all meet similar regulations, yet they have vastly different public outreach funds to do so. For those challenged by limited budgets and resources, it’s important to look for creative ways to expand the impact of your efforts. Exploring ways to partner with other organizations that serve the community can be an effective solution.
Alternative Community Partnerships
Many utilities already have a relationship with first responders through required safety training. Consider a new kind of partnership by tapping into the fire safety training they’re already conducting. Contribute personnel and/or materials to provide a comprehensive natural gas safety education segment that fits into their fire safety training program. Challenging your company to look for new ways to partner not only with emergency services, but also other municipal departments or community services can extend the reach of your community education efforts.
Take a look at what some utilities are already doing:
As you develop new and creative ways to interact with the community, Culver can help with education and promotional products to support your efforts. Visit www.culverco.com/catalog to view the full line of Culver’s natural gas safety products. We offer various levels of safety information to suit all ages and learning styles. Additionally, any of our products can be customized to include your company name, logo, and contact information. Want to create your own? We can help with that, too! Just give us a call at 800-428-5837, or email email@example.com to get started.
April brings thoughts of spring, getting outside and into the garden. According to the national Gardening Association, 75 percent of US households participated in DIY lawn and garden care last year. The $36.1-billion industry gained six million new enthusiasts last year, five million of which were 18- to 34-year-old Millennials and Gen Xers. With the advent of so many new gardeners, there is a significant opportunity to educate about safe digging and natural gas safety. Community events offer the perfect platform to teach residents to dig safely, how to recognize a gas leak outdoors, and what to do in an emergency.
Forty-five percent of American homeowners who plan to dig this year said in a recent Common Ground Alliance survey that they would not call 811 beforehand. Together with the fact that an underground utility line is damaged once every six minutes nationwide because someone decided to dig without first calling 811, your outreach efforts become all the more critical.
Many residents do not realize how extensive buried utility lines have become and that they are often only a few inches underground. Shallowly buried utilities can make them easy to hit, potentially creating a gas leak and a potential fire hazard. The community should be reminded at every opportunity that anyone planning a digging project, even the simplest gardening projects, like planting flowers or shrubs, should call the underground utility locator service at 811 several days before digging so gas pipelines and other utilities can be clearly marked and avoided.
811 Educational Tools
At Culver Company, we’ve created a selection of fun yet educational tools that you can distribute at your upcoming community events. These tools will reinforce your commitment to keeping residents safe while reminding them to “know what’s below” so they don’t put themselves and others at risk.
This key chain is a fun way to remind gardeners to “Dig Safe” and “Call Before You Dig.” With a smooth brushed nickel finish, the miniature shovel has room to share your message or brand name, making it an excellent way to dispense important safety information and enhance your commitment to the community.
Natural Gas Safety Wheel (#86115)
Help prevent accidents around natural gas. This two-sided wheel is packed with clear safety tips for customers in your service area. Distribute it at safety fairs, community events, in classrooms—and include it in your new customer welcome packages. (Note: If you're looking for Natural Gas Safety Wheel #82281, this wheel is an updated version that replaced it.)
Help keep people safe and prevent damage to utility lines. Give out 811 reminders to contractors who dig for a living and residents who may dig in their yards at home. These three-and-a-half-inch square decals use the official Common Ground Alliance logo. If you need a different size decal or want to customize a decal with your utility’s logo or contact information, please call for a quote.
Any of our products can be customized to include your company name, logo, and contact information. For additional information about natural gas outreach materials, give us a call at 800-428-5837, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.culverco.com/catalog.