Sustainability: “A business approach that integrates ENVIRONMENTAL, social and economic stewardship into our business to create value for our communities and for our shareholders.”
Being responsible stewards of the environment is a priority for Piedmont Natural Gas. We believe natural gas contributes to a sustainable future, and we consider our day-to-day activities an important component in maintaining our local environments.
We have continued our recognition of Earth Day with our second and third annual Earth Week events in 2013 and 2014. We held recycling collection events in Charlotte and invited the public to bring batteries, electronics, shredding and other items that would typically be sent to a landfill. The results were significant, thanks to an incredible response from the Charlotte community.
Piedmont employees continue to demonstrate their willingness to adopt behaviors with positive environmental impacts. Our Clean Air Works program encourages employees to carpool or use alternative transportation such as taking public transportation or cycling to work. This significantly reduces the number of miles driven each year. Since our last report in 2013, Piedmont employees have logged more than 4,200 clean commutes. According to our estimates, this has avoided approximately 143,000 miles that would have otherwise been driven. Additionally, we continue to provide partial reimbursement to employees who purchase CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles.
The Piedmont Natural Gas Green Purchasing program offers employees several environmentally responsible options for purchasing office supplies. These efforts have resulted in measurable and meaningful environmental impacts.
As of October 31, 2014, 28 percent of our fleet vehicles were converted to operate on natural gas. During 2013 and 2014, the natural gas vehicles (NGVs) in our fleet helped Piedmont displace more than 200,000 GGEs (gasoline gallon equivalents) of gasoline, which is equal to nearly 5,000 fewer barrels of oil and more than 1,700 metric tons of carbon emissions.
Facts about Natural Gas Vehicles
- There are about 153,000 NGVs on U.S. roads today and more than 15.2 million worldwide
- There are 1,564 CNG and 111 LNG (liquefied natural gas) fueling stations in the U.S., and refueling appliances are available for home use
- In the U.S., about 50 different manufacturers produce 100 models of light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles and engines
- Natural gas currently costs from $1.50 to $2.00 less per gasoline gallon equivalent (GGE)
- In the U.S. alone, NGVs offset the use of about 500 million gallons of gasoline in 2014
- NGVs meet the strictest emission standards, including California's AT-PZEV standard
- NGVs are as safe or safer than traditional gasoline or diesel vehicles
Source: Natural Gas Vehicles for America
What is LEED? “LEED certification provides independent verification of a building or neighborhood’s green features, allowing for the design, construction, operations and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings. LEED is the triple bottom line in action, benefiting people, planet and profit.” Source: USGBC
Piedmont owns and operates LEED-certified facilities in Nashville, Tenn., and in Tarboro, N.C. In 2014, we built a new facility in Rockingham, N.C. with plans to pursue silver or gold-level certification for that building. Our headquarters in Charlotte is a LEED-certified facility as well.
The positive environmental and financial attributes of natural gas are changing the energy landscape, and we are excited to help more customers each year realize the benefits of our product. Billing rates remain at their lowest levels since at least 2005 in North and South Carolina, and 2012 in Tennessee. Consistently lower rates and abundant supplies encourage more residential and business customers to choose natural gas as their low-cost and efficient energy supply.
More than 90 percent of the initial energy of natural gas is delivered to the end user. This means that very little energy is lost overall when consumers directly use natural gas to operate their equipment and appliances. We call this direct use, and we actively promote it as one of the most important benefits of natural gas.
The amount of natural gas used in the residential sector has remained remarkably unchanged despite the increasing number of natural gas customers in the U.S. Piedmont and the natural gas industry have worked diligently to support the research and development of efficient appliances, and have increased awareness of energy conservation to continue this trend of less energy use per natural gas customer.
Natural gas is an increasingly popular alternative to coal-fired electric generation plants. Piedmont is proud to support this growing need. With the completion of the Sutton Pipeline Project providing natural gas delivery service to a combined-cycle power-generation facility near Wilmington, N.C., Piedmont currently provides natural gas service to 15 power-generation facilities. Natural gas power plants are designed to emit relatively low carbon emissions, and for every kilowatt hour of electricity generated by natural gas instead of coal, carbon emissions are reduced by approximately 52 to 56 percent. (Source: American Gas Association 2015 Playbook)
Hydraulic fracturing is the process of producing natural gas by injecting water and sand, along with a small percentage of additives, underground. Coupled with horizontal directional drilling technology, fracturing has resulted in significant increases in domestic natural gas supply. Though Piedmont is not directly involved in the exploration or extraction of natural gas, we support the responsible use of hydraulic fracturing because of the resulting low cost of natural gas and the significant positive impacts on our economy and on consumers.
We have been active in promoting responsible shale development by advocating for best-practice drilling and production techniques in multiple forums.
Using natural gas to generate electricity and for energy-intensive manufacturing activities contributes to reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the U.S. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, GHG emissions are at a lower level today than in 2005. The American Gas Association reports that increased supply and the resulting low cost of natural gas have led to savings of approximately $65 billion for residential natural gas customers over the past five years. For Piedmont’s residential customers, the savings have been approximately $400 per customer per year. Piedmont’s total customer base has seen approximately $2.5 billion in savings since 2008.