Many people feel energy efficiency begins and ends in their homes. In reality, energy efficiency begins prior to reaching your home. The Full Fuel Cycle represents the amount of energy expended to bring a fossil fuel, such as coal from the earth to your home. Using natural gas in your home is three times more efficient than using electricity.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless, non-combustible greenhouse-gas that contributes to global warming. It is formed by complete combustion of fossil fuels (coal, charcoal, natural gas, petroleum) and carbon containing products (such as wood). It also is released through respiration by living organisms and by the gradual oxidation of organic matter in soil.
Electric emissions were obtained from the EIA eGRID 2006 report. The emission data for natural gas was obtained from the EPA Clean Energy Calculations and References as 117 lbs. CO2/decatherm.
Sustainability >> Compressed Natural Gas
Light-duty vehicles cost $5,000 to $10,000 more than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Those “incremental” costs can be offset by State and Federal incentives and by the fuel savings.
Other light and medium-duty vehicle conversions can cost $10,000 to $15,000. Several states also offer additional incentives such as rebates or tax credits. Check with your local area to see what incentives are available. The District does offer CNG vehicle rebates for individuals and will consider project incentives for other fleets considering CNG vehicles on a case by case basis.
Typical “fast-fill” fuel stations, the kind used at public and large private stations, take approximately the same time as filling a gasoline vehicle, 3-5 minutes. Many of the fuel stations owned by individuals and smaller private fleets operate on a “time-fill” basis that varies according to the owner’s needs but can take several hours to fill a vehicle or fleet of vehicles- usually overnight. A home-fueling unit typically fuels at a rate of just under ½ gallon per hour which works well for overnight fueling.
Compressed Natural Gas is sold in GGEs or gasoline gallon equivalents. A GGE has the same energy content (124,800 BTUs) as a gallon of gasoline. CNG is generally 15-40 percent less than gasoline or diesel. The District’s CNG rates are set on a monthly basis and are posted under Compressed Natural Gas. Rates for private fueling with compression done by the customer are generally $.50 cents less per GGE. These rates include all State and Federal road taxes.
Because a GGE of natural gas has the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline CNG cars get basically the same miles per GGE as gasoline-powered cars get per gallon. The Honda Civic-natural gas gets 24 City, 36 Highway and 28 Combined miles per GGE which is the same mileage as the standard gasoline-powered Honda Civic.
The Honda Civic-natural gas has a standard 8.0 GGE fuel tank which gives it a range of 200-250 miles. Like other CNG vehicles, additional or larger tanks can be used to increase the range. The Chevy Express van with the extra tank option has a range of up to 350 miles. Bi-fuel CNG vehicles that can switch to gasoline have a virtually unlimited range because of their ability to switch to gasoline when CNG is unavailable. CNG tanks are expensive and take up vehicle space, so increased range does come with a trade-off.
There are over 1,500 CNG fueling stations nationwide and more than half are available for public use. A complete list and map is available at: U.S. Department of Energy. Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and Wyoming all have public stations. There are also well developed networks of public CNG stations in Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, and California as well as on the East Coast.
There are over 350 CNG vehicles in the Omaha area including the District. Worldwide there are over 15 million natural gas vehicles but only about 150,000 in the United States.
Dedicated vehicles are designed to run strictly on natural gas. Dedicated Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) vehicles are built from the manufacturer to run only on natural gas while dedicated conversion vehicles have the gasoline or diesel fuel system removed or de-activated. Bi-fuel vehicles can run on either natural gas or gasoline. Dedicated vehicles generally run slightly more efficiently when running on natural gas than do bi-fuel vehicles because the engines are adjusted to run solely on natural gas.
Dedicated vehicles are limited by the range of the particular vehicle and work well for local fleets that return to a fueling site regularly or commuter vehicles that do not require an extended range. Bi-fuel vehicles work well for vehicles that occasionally need to travel beyond the range of fueling stations.
Conversion costs for dedicated or bi-fuel vehicles are typically about the same. However, bi-fuel vehicles did not qualify for the previously available Federal tax credits. There is pending legislation before Congress that could reinstate those incentives and possibly extend them to bi-fuel vehicles as well. Details of the currently available vehicle incentives are at: http://www.ngvamerica.org/incentives/federalTax.html.
While after market conversions are being done by a variety of companies in some states and other countries, the District strongly recommends using only the EPA certified conversions listed on the NGVAmerica list. This is the best way to insure that the components and installation meet all safety standards.
These conversions tend to be more expensive than non-EPA certified conversions (around $6,000 to $10,000 for a passenger vehicle, more for medium and heavy duty vehicles) but only EPA certified conversions qualified for the federal incentives which ranged from $2,500 to $32,000 depending on the size of the vehicle. If/when those incentives are reinstated it is expected that they will continue to apply only to EPA certified conversions.
Sustainability >> Liquefied Natural Gas
LNG is stored at more than 100 U.S. facilities. Most of the existing facilities in the U.S. were constructed between 1965 and 1975.
LNG is stored at very low (near atmospheric) pressure in double-walled, insulated tanks. The inner tank contains the LNG, while the outer tank contains the insulation and prevents any natural gas vapor from escaping.
All new LNG facilities are required to have a dike or impounding wall capable of containing 110-percent of the maximum LNG storage capacity. In the unlikely event of a spill, this feature will prevent LNG from flowing off site. Storage facilities use advanced monitoring systems to immediately detect any liquid or natural gas leaks or fires at the plant.
Natural Gas >> General
CO detectors/alarms always have been and still are designed to alarm before potentially life-threatening levels of CO are reached. The UL standard 2034 (1998 revision) has stricter requirements that the detector/alarm must meet before it can sound. As a result, the possibility of nuisance alarms is decreased.
What is the role of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in preventing carbon monoxide (CO)?
CPSC worked closely with Underwriters Laboratories (UL) to help develop the safety standard (UL 2034) for CO detectors/alarms. CPSC helps promote carbon monoxide safety awareness to raise awareness of CO hazards and the need for regular maintenance of fuel-burning appliances.
CPSC recommends that every home have a CO detector/alarm that meets the requirements of the most recent UL standard 2034 or the IAS 6-96 standard in the hallway near every separate sleeping area. CPSC also works with industry to develop voluntary and mandatory standards for fuel-burning appliances.
A service line runs from the main in the street to the meter. We are responsible for the maintenance, repair and location of the main, service line, regulator and meter.
The property owner owns and maintains the fuel lines on the "house side" or downstream of the meter, including buried fuel lines. The fuel line on the "house side" begins after the meter.
If the underground fuel line is not maintained, it may be subject to potential hazards of corrosion (rust) and leaks.
Inspect the buried fuel line periodically for leaks.
If the buried fuel line is metal, inspect it periodically for corrosion.
Repair any unsafe condition.
Call a qualified plumber or heating contractor to provide location, inspection and repair services for buried lines. The service line will be located at no charge when you contact Nebraska 811 by calling 811 or 800.331.5666. You can also submit via the website. When excavating near a buried fuel line, locate the line in advance and excavate by hand. Nebraska 811 does not locate buried fuel lines after the meter.
Natural Gas >> Safety
When burning fossil fuel (wood, propane, oil, natural gas), carbon monoxide (CO) can be produced by lack of air, improperly working appliances or poor flue conditions. Follow these maintenance and inspection tips:
- Don't use temporary heating systems. Never use a gas or propane range to heat your home.
- Make sure your permanent heating system and appliances are operating and vented properly. Have the heating system and appliances inspected every year by a licensed heating contractor.
- Keep flues and chimneys clean and free of debris.
- Check for rusted or pitted flue pipes from your furnace and water heater. Don't patch or repair these pipes; have them replaced immediately.
- Check the flames. All gas flames should be crisp and blue. If flames are white or yellow, appear "soft" or wavy, or if you see soot or carbon deposits, shut off the furnace and call your heating contractor.
- Hold your hand under the vent pipe on the furnace. If you notice hot air backing out of the vent, turn off the furnace and call your heating contractor. Hot air can mean blockage in the vent or chimney.
- Use a clean filter -- your furnace will run smoother and more efficiently. Standard air filters need to be changed once a month. Newer filters may be washable or require less frequent changing. Check the owner's manual.
- Be sure a fire is completely out before closing the fireplace damper.
- Do not operate a barbecue grill in a closed area.
- Don't start or run gasoline-powered equipment in a closed area.
The health effects of CO depend on the level of CO and length of exposure, as well as each individual's health condition. The concentration of CO is measured in parts per million (ppm). Health effects from exposure to CO levels of approximately 1 to 70 ppm are uncertain, but most people will not experience any symptoms. Some heart patients might experience an increase in chest pain.
As CO levels increase and remain above 70 ppm, symptoms may become more noticeable (headache, fatigue, nausea). As CO levels increase above 150 to 200 ppm, disorientation, unconsciousness, and death are possible.
If you think you are experiencing any of the symptoms (headache, dizziness, weakness, nausea, vomiting, chest pain or confusion) of CO poisoning get fresh air immediately. Open windows and doors for more ventilation, turn off any combustion appliances, and leave the house. Call your fire department (or 911) and report your symptoms. High levels of CO inhalation can cause loss of consciousness and death.
It is also important to contact a doctor immediately for a proper diagnosis. Tell your doctor that you suspect CO poisoning is causing your problems. Prompt medical attention is important if you are experiencing any symptoms of CO poisoning when you are operating fuel-burning appliances. Before turning your fuel-burning appliances back on, make sure a qualified service person checks them for malfunction.