America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA), UGI Utilities, Inc., UGI Energy Services, LLC, the Greater Reading Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Greater Reading Economic Partnership hosted a Think About Energy briefing on Friday, Nov. 20 at Albright College.
The Think About Energy briefing was the eighth in a series of briefings conducted across Pennsylvania over the past two years. The Reading session provided information to attendees on the supply and price outlook for natural gas, natural gas infrastructure developments and new technologies.
In her keynote address, Gladys M. Brown, Chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, stressed the importance of natural gas to Pennsylvania business and industry. Chairman Brown also described the PUC’s work to encourage expansion of access to this local energy source to Pennsylvania consumers.
“Pennsylvania’s plentiful natural gas reserves will be helping to heat and power our homes and businesses for the foreseeable future,” Chairman Brown said. “The biggest challenge we now face is getting this energy to consumers, underscoring the importance of investments in infrastructure and technology to deliver this energy efficiently, economically and safely.”
Paul Hartman, Northeast Regional Director for ANGA, discussed the importance and the need for greater infrastructure investments to bring natural gas to businesses and consumers in Pennsylvania and other regional markets.
“America’s natural gas supply offers countless economic opportunities for the country, especially in the mid-Atlantic and northeast,” said Hartman. “However, we need the energy infrastructure in place to take full advantage of this affordable, locally produced natural gas.”
Barry Wentzel, senior project leader for UGI Utilities, Inc., and Anthony Cox, director of midstream business development for UGI Energy Services, provided information on Pennsylvania markets and opportunities for local customers.
“UGI customers are seeing savings of more than 40 percent over their natural gas bills from five years ago,” Wentzel said. “Commercial customers who have converted to natural gas are seeing savings of 50 percent or more as a result of this unprecedented period of stable cost and plentiful supply. The long-term forecast of plentiful supply and stable prices makes natural gas the logical choice to encourage economic growth and business success.”
Cox emphasized the importance of infrastructure development in delivering plentiful supplies to market.
“As the infrastructure required to bring additional supplies of Marcellus Shale to market continues to develop, there will be even greater availability of natural gas for business customers throughout Pennsylvania, resulting in lower and more stable energy pricing,” Cox said. “This is a tremendous opportunity for Pennsylvania businesses to take advantage of a homegrown resource.”
Local businesses and institutions also made presentations. Representatives from Reading Hospital, East Penn Manufacturing and Albright College discussed recent projects they initiated to expand their use of clean-burning natural gas. They also discussed the significant savings achieved through use of natural gas technologies such as combined heat and power (CHP) that generates electricity and useful heat simultaneously.