NW Natural Forms Renewable Resources Team

Names Anna Chittum as director

Portland, Oregon, UNITED STATES

PORTLAND, Ore., Oct. 29, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- NW Natural, a subsidiary of NW Natural Holding Company (NYSE: NWN), has promoted Anna Chittum to director of Renewable Resources. Additionally, it has hired Josh Lieberman as renewable project developer and is seeking to hire a renewable program manager as it staffs up to meet the company’s renewable goals.

“We know how important renewable gas resources are in closing the loop on waste and investing in homegrown solutions to address climate change,” said Justin Palfreyman, NW Natural vice president of strategy and business development. “As a leader in this space, we are ready and resourced to pursue these opportunities even more aggressively.”

The Renewable Resources group’s mission is to secure renewable supply for NW Natural customers and renewable resources to decarbonize the company’s system. These include renewable natural gas derived from dairy manure, landfill gas, wastewater treatment plants and other sources; and renewable hydrogen, derived from a cutting-edge process that captures surplus wind and solar energy and converts it to renewable natural gas or hydrogen through electrolysis. These renewable energies can be stored and then blended into the pipeline system to serve homes, businesses and vehicles.

The team
Chittum has been with NW Natural for two years leading the development of renewable natural gas and renewable hydrogen (power-to-gas) opportunities for the company. Prior, she consulted on best practices in business models and regulatory structures for district energy, microgrids, and combined heat and power (CHP) systems and worked to promote energy efficiency policies for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. Chittum was a Fulbright Fellow in Denmark, where she researched local district heat planning and the use of CHP to balance variable wind generation. She holds a master’s in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a bachelor’s in Economics from Gonzaga University.

“We’re excited to expand our offerings to customers,” said Chittum. “There are new laws recently enacted in Oregon and Washington that allow us to pursue this renewable energy source on behalf of our customers and be a first mover in the utility space nationally.”

Josh Lieberman joins NW Natural after previously working at RL Energy Resources, Clean Methane Systems LLC, and Technology Transition Corporation where he served as lead staff for the American Biogas Council. He holds a master’s of science from University of Adelaide and a bachelor’s from University of Oregon. Lieberman is a certified Project Management Professional.

More about the new laws
Natural gas utilities are regulated by utility commissions and obligated to deliver the least-cost commodity to customers. This has been a barrier to purchasing and distributing renewable natural gas to customers, which can cost more in the same way that renewable electricity can cost more. 

In Oregon, Senate Bill 98 allows utilities to acquire renewables (natural gas and hydrogen) on behalf of customers. This first of its kind law in the nation provides local communities a potential revenue source to turn their waste into energy. It outlines goals for adding as much as 30% renewable natural gas into the state’s pipeline system. It sets limits on the total amount paid for renewable natural gas that is overseen by regulators, protecting utilities and ratepayers from excessive costs as the market develops.

In Washington State, House Bill 1257 also sets the groundwork for natural gas utilities to acquire renewable resources for their customers. In addition, the bill requires that natural gas utilities develop voluntary tariffs their customers can use to buy renewable natural gas for their homes or businesses.

More about renewable natural gas
Renewable natural gas produced from local, organic materials like food, agricultural and forestry waste, wastewater, or landfills has similar climate benefits to wind and solar energy. As these materials decompose, they produce methane. That methane can be captured, conditioned to pipeline quality and delivered in the existing pipeline system to vehicles, homes and businesses where it can be used in existing appliances and equipment. This closes the loop on waste and provides a renewable energy option for the natural gas system, in the same way that wind and solar are used to generate renewable electricity.

The Oregon Department of Energy released its first inventory of technical potential and estimated there are enough sources statewide to produce nearly 50 billion cubic feet (BCF) of renewable natural gas. That’s equivalent to the total amount of natural gas used by all Oregon residential customers today. Read the study.

The market for renewable natural gas is fairly new but growing quickly. There are about 100 projects nationwide, and that’s expected to increase by 50% over the next year. Renewable natural gas is being prioritized as a main energy source for space heating in places like SeaTac Airport, and is being used in fleets like UPS and Waste Management. UPS recently made the largest commitment yet to use it for 40% of its total ground fuel purchases by 2025. More information can be found here.

NW Natural plans to accept homegrown renewable natural gas onto its pipeline system through several projects in 2020. The company is working with the City of Portland Bureau of Environmental Services, operator of the City of Portland’s Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. Some of the renewable natural gas generated here will be used as fuel for City vehicles, while the remainder will be injected onto NW Natural’s system. NW Natural is also working with the Metropolitan Wastewater Management Commission, a partnership of the cities of Eugene and Springfield and Lane County, to bring renewable natural gas onto the system, generated from methane produced during the wastewater treatment process.

More about renewable hydrogen
Renewable hydrogen is made from excess wind, solar and hydro power. It can be used for the transportation system, industrial use, or blended into the natural gas pipeline system. More information can be found here.

Northwest Natural Holding Company, (NYSE: NWN) (NW Natural Holdings), is headquartered in Portland, Oregon, and through its subsidiaries has been doing business for 160 years in the Pacific Northwest. It owns NW Natural Gas Company (NW Natural), NW Natural Water Company (NW Natural Water), and other business interests and activities.

NW Natural is a local distribution company that currently provides natural gas service to approximately two million people in more than 140 communities through more than 750,000 meters in Oregon and Southwest Washington with one of the most modern pipeline systems in the nation. NW Natural consistently leads the industry with high J.D. Power & Associates customer satisfaction scores.

NW Natural Holdings’ subsidiaries own and operate 35 Bcf of underground gas storage capacity with NW Natural operating 20 Bcf in Oregon.

NW Natural Water currently provides water distribution and wastewater services to communities throughout the Pacific Northwest. When current outstanding transactions close, NW Natural Water expects to serve 53,000 people through approximately 21,000 connections. Learn more about our water business at nwnaturalwater.com.

Additional information is available at nwnaturalholdings.com.

A photo accompanying this announcement is available at https://www.globenewswire.com/NewsRoom/AttachmentNg/8668fb96-9640-412d-83de-4003a95274ab

Anna Chittum, director of Renewable Resources at NW Natural

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