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CWJJ Episode 106: Stuart Saulters

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Thursday, March 17- Jim and James welcome Stuart Saulters from APGA, they discuss the current volatility of the Natural Gas market, the PHMSA Grant Program for Public Gas Utilities, and provide a better understanding of Renewable Natural Gas (RNG) and its opportunities. The podcast also introduces industry spotlight segments, bringing attention to valuable topics within the energy industry.

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Quick Links:

Stuart Saulters on Linkedin

Episode Transcript

[0:00] [music]

[0:24] Jim Schauer: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to this episode of “Coffee with Jim & James.” James, another beautiful day in the studios in Florida before we bring our guest in for this groundbreaking, I’m going to say groundbreaking episode. We’ll get into that later.

[0:38] But James, how are you doing this morning?

[0:39] James Cross:  I’m good. We got a cold front came in today. Like Stewart Salters up there in D.C., just freezing. I need my petticoat. I don’t know. Do we have petticoats? Is that a thing anymore?

[0:57] Jim:  I think that was in the 1800s, but we’ll just leave it alone.

[1:01] James:  An overcoat? It’s cold here in Texas today. Thankful for natural gas…

[1:07] Jim:  Absolutely.

[1:08] James:  …thank you very much. How about that for a plug, Stuart?

[1:10] Stuart Saulters:  [laughs] I like it, product placement.

[1:12] James:  He’s always down.

[1:12] Stuart:  [laughs]

[1:13] James:  Stuart Saulters, joining us again. Is this two or three, Stuart? I can’t remember. I was trying to. It seems like…

[1:21] Stuart:  This is two.

[1:23] James:  …we’ve spent a lot of time together.

[1:23] Jim:  Is that it? Just two?

[1:25] Stuart:  Yeah.

[1:26] James:  We won’t talk about that, then. I thought this was the record breaker. Stuart joins us again. Always a pleasure, sir. How are you today?

[1:36] Stuart:  I’m good. I am good. It is actually a warm day in DC.

[1:42] James:  Switched wallets there, I see.

[1:45] Stuart:  [laughs]

[1:45] James:  I like it. I’m glad somebody…Well, here’s the funny thing, and it’s totally Texas. Yesterday it was 71, Saturday it was 83, and today it feels like 19.

[1:59] Jim:  That’s a drop. That’s a drop.

[2:00] James:  That’s a pretty big one.

[2:02] Man, welcome back to the show. I think we’ve got some cool topics. Again, the pre‑show’s where it’s at, always, but we can’t ever share that. Maybe later we’ll bring it behind the scenes. In the pre‑show, I was excited about some of the topics.

[2:22] Jimmy, you want to trot us on down the line?

[2:25] Jim:  I would love to. Actually, we’re going to get into a subject that’s on a lot of people’s minds right now. I would call it the natural gas market and the impact it’s having on public gas utilities. 

[2:40] Anybody that’s been looking at the news, whether its natural gas, whether it’s crude, whether it’s whatever, a lot of people are seeing a lot of uncertainty.

[2:47] Today, in early March, we just popped above, opened this morning at 501 for an M, which is 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas. Dropped a little bit down to 488, but we’re seeing a lot of fluctuations, so we’re seeing a lot of that.

[3:04] Stuart, the impact that that is having on our public utilities in municipalities, thoughts about that. What are you folks doing about that?

[3:14] Stuart: Just a couple of quick thoughts. Again, always enjoy being on with you all, enjoy the conversation, enjoy the coffee.

[3:24] James: I know.

[3:27] Stuart: Yeah, and I like the mug. Good [inaudible] product.

[3:30] James: You feel it. There’s got to be a way…

[3:32] Stuart: You guys are good with the products placement.

[3:33] James: I’ll tell you what.

[3:33] Stuart: Natural gas, coffee mugs.

[3:35] Jim: There too.

[3:36] James: It’s weird, if you got a Jimmy’s house just for lunch, or dinner, or something. He has that on the wall. It’s so strange, and his kitchen…

[3:45] Jim: It never comes down. No, I’m not.

[3:47] James: He’s in his dining room.

[3:47] Jim: The kitchen is over there. I’m in the best view looking out into the yard over there.

[3:48] James: [inaudible] one eye.

[3:49] Jim: One eye.

[3:50] James: Sorry, Stuart. I swear, we have a plan to these things.

[3:59] Stuart: [laughs] That’s all right. The couple of points I wanted to make on this particular topic when it comes to natural gas markets is, and may be just one point to foot stomp, is just the difference of the public utility versus the investor‑owned utility.

[4:17] There are a couple of gas coops, and they would probably fall into this bucket too. It’s the resources that our members have and the challenge it is to manage, keeping costs low, which is their goal, which is their aim. Managing that with all the volatility of the market.

[4:40] I can say we didn’t ask for it. When you think about what’s happening in Ukraine and Russia, there’s all these things that impact the markets. For us, we like to talk about and work with policymakers on, how can you make it as stable as you can, take out some of that volatility.

[5:03] That’s the goal and one of the things we’ve been working on these past few weeks, there just seems to be a lot of volatility in the markets.

[5:13] James: When Stuart only first talked about this, this was a couple weeks ago. The war hadn’t broke out over there, so we were talking about the volatility. Leading up to it, we kind of partially knew what might be going on. Some of it was that, but it was kind of timely.

[5:36] We go back and think about having that conversation two weeks ago. Then now we’re having the conversation on this show. Is it a little bit of we just got to weather the storm a little bit, or is it? Like you said, is there anything really other than keep your eyes open and get through it?

[5:55] Stuart: There is some opportunity for the US to take a look at how much natural gas they produce. There’s probably some opportunity for us as a country to think about our policies and its impacts on natural gas production.

[6:16] That would be the one part I encourage folks to look at. There was actually an incident in January, where the commodity exchange, the NYMEX saw some funky market activity. That is also an opportunity for policymakers to look at and say, “Hey.”

[6:41] Again, like I said, recognizing that there’s things you can do as a utility. You can hedge prices. You can go into long‑term contracts. Prepays is a term tossed about these days, and so there are tools but just recognize like I said, our members may not have the resources to employ some of those big complex gas buying strategies.

[7:05] Jim: From my past, my CenterPoint Energy days, I know that we were very robust with having a lot of hedges and then all the way down to GDD, Gas Daily Daily and buying it that way, spot market, and then blending them together.

[7:22] Also, a lot of people don’t really realize too, is that, for lack of a better term, gas for utilities, municipalities is a pass‑through. The money is made on the transportation of the gas, for the most part. A lot of people say, “Oh, natural gas prices are going up, utilities must like it.” We’re like, “No, we really don’t.”

[7:43] Because when the gas prices go up, you take your thermostat and you turn it down, because it’s really expensive. $2 an M, $1.80 an M, that’s good for everybody. The return for the utilities, lack of better term is, on the throughput. Anyways, it’s just a little bit there.

[8:05] It is a fascinating subject and it definitely warrants people to become consciously competent to understand all that’s involved with, or at least a little bit of it. That there’s a lot of ebb and flows to it. A lot of connecting the dots, because it’s not just the things that are happening in the Gulf states that are feeding a lot of this.

[8:27] It is worldwide market, especially LNG. When we have tankers being shipped overseas, those are done at contract, those are businesses. What they contracted a year or two years ago, they still have to hold forward.

[8:42] All of a sudden, we’re sending LNG over. Anyways, it’s a very interesting topic. Look at James. He’s like, “Oh my, here they go. They’re going to…”

[8:51] James: No, I’ve never felt…

[8:53] Jim: You know what? I think that’s probably enough because Stuart and I could probably go for three hours on that subject.

[8:59] James: I’ll be honest. I have no clue what you’re talking about. I’m honest and I’m learning. I’ll listen to you all. I could not get in that conversation. You all are perfectionists.

[9:12] Stuart: One more I got to throw it in there, because you mentioned the LNG and maybe you need to take another break, James so Jim and I could talk. [laughs]

[9:22] APGA has actually had a little bit of a change of heart when it comes to LNG. When the big LNG export started going out. That was around the shale boom, 2012 or so. APGA actually was not as supportive of LNG exports, just knowing that that’s going to have impact on prices here domestically.

[9:51] Since then, we’ve recognized, there’s plenty of natural gas to go around. Let’s all just use it, both domestically and internationally, because it’s clean. If we as a world are going to meet some of our environmental goals, wouldn’t you rather use natural gas?

[10:10] Now, we’re almost having to rethink, we’re not going to go against LNG exports just because of that environmental benefit, the affordability. Third‑world countries, wouldn’t you rather have natural gas versus wood, or coal, or whatever that they’re using?

[10:32] We want to have the conversation with policymakers to say, send it overseas, but recognize if you’re not producing enough here domestically, you’re going to impact price for Americans. Let’s all have a part, there’s plenty to go around, pass it to everybody.

[10:53] We just want to make sure that folks don’t lose sight of the importance of LNG exports and helping countries. Also, geopolitical diplomacy, but also, we need gas here too, natural gas here.

[11:05] Jim: We do. Well said.

[11:07] Stuart: All right, come back James.

[11:10] James: Well said, Stuart.

[11:11] Stuart: Come on in James. [laughs]

[11:11] James: Hey guys. Fascinating. I am learning. I’m an open book there. I think everybody knows that. It’s interesting for me to hear, that’s things that I have no clue about that are going on that that is very, very important. Hey, guys, let’s take a quick break and we’ll come right back.

[11:32] Jim: Sounds good. Coffee time.

[11:34] Stuart: Hey, you all. Stewart Saulters from the American Public Gas Association here. I’m grateful to Jim, James and the Coffee with Jim and James team, for letting me drop in. I want to tell you some exciting news that will impact the public natural gas utilities across the country.

[11:52] Last November, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act which enacted a one‑billion‑dollar grant program. This money will be just for municipal or community‑owned utilities to repair, rehabilitate, or replace distribution pipelines, or to acquire equipment.

[12:13] With the goal being to, one, reduce incidents and fatalities, and two, avoid economic losses. The Notice of Funding Opportunity, sometimes called NOFO, is yet to be issued and probably won’t for a few more months. Because it was in the legislation, we do know what FEMSA will be considering in the applications.

[12:36] One, the risk profile of the existing pipeline system, including the presence of pipe prone to leakage. Two, the potential of the project for creating jobs. Three, the potential for benefiting disadvantaged rural and urban communities, and four, economic impact or growth.

[12:57] Myself and my APGA colleagues are communicating frequently with the FEMSA team, to make sure this grant program is a success. Be on the lookout for more from us. Until then, go to APGA.org for the latest.

[13:14] If you have any questions or want to talk more, I won’t try to give you my email address. Too many opportunities for mistakes with my name being spelled weird, plus my Southern accent. Just message me on LinkedIn and we can connect that way.

[13:32] Again, thanks to Jim and James for letting me get this message out about this great opportunity to improve our country’s pipeline infrastructure, making it safer for the public and the environment. Take care, you all.

[13:47] Jim: We’re back. James, what was that?

[13:53] James: I don’t know. This is going to sound really funny and pretentious, but I kind of see this as the kickoff of season three of our show, which again, sounds really pretentious. Stuart, welcome to season three.

[14:10] It’s not like Ozark or anything like that. It’s not as dark and dirty as that. Really, what we’re doing is, we are changing up the show a little bit and what we thought about this past year is, how can we really do a better job for our industry out there?

[14:29] It was great what we created, but there’s a ton of podcast, there’s a ton of content out there. We can do all that, but how could we give back to our industry? We thought about, we can donate our time and our audience to causes that we really need to be promoting.

[14:49] One of the first people we thought about was Stuart and APGA over there, and really shining a light. These are no way ads. Our goal is to really shine a light in our industry where it needs to be. That was our first one. It’s our first attempt at it. We’ll see how good we get at it. All right, Stuart. Stuart studied all day that day and delivered it like a pro.

[15:14] Jim: He did fantastic.

[15:16] James: Just like he needed to.

[15:17] Jim: James, kind of…

[15:19] James: Just like he was called upon.

[15:19] Jim: Yeah, and let me just say. We did this special day with Stuart in the middle there. Going in the future, we could have two totally separate guest, to be as [inaudible].

[15:29] James: You bet. Our goal is to, again, may not even have one for every episode, but to make them special so that APGA has a platform, or AGA, or SGA, or whatever. Whoever needs a message put out and really put it in front of folks. We’re happy to work with Stuart on the first one and record‑breaking groundbreaking content, Stuart.

[15:55] Stuart: I’m just impressed you all got three seasons. Nobody has canceled you, no.

[16:00] James: I tell you what, having been someone who’s been seeing every one of them myself, I can’t feel…

[16:08] [laughter]

[16:08] James: That’s exactly how I feel.

[16:11] Stuart: No. I do appreciate the platform and the opportunity to get the message out, both through the little groundbreaking clip, as well as in this longer episode. Expound a little bit on that FEMSA grant program which I highlighted for you all in that little clip.

[16:30] It is a great opportunity. I think, when you look at the ways public utilities can get funds to repair their infrastructure, to improve it, make it safer, make it more environmentally friendly. There’s not a lot. Having the government partner with us, extend the opportunity to get money, it’s awesome.

[16:55] We’re definitely working hard to educate our members on that opportunity. Let them know what’s out there. There’s not a lot that they can do right now. We’re all kind of waiting on FEMSA to issue the notice of funding opportunity. When that comes out, it’s going to be a mad rush to get applications in.

[17:14] I will say, one of the things we tell our members and hopefully some utilities are watching us on this podcast and are listening. Let them, help them understand that be thinking about projects that you could use this money for. Is there a pipe replacement project, cast iron?

[17:36] That’s the term tossed around the most, but there’s early vintage plastics that you could apply, use this money for to replace. There’s bare steel, uncoated steel. Think about those projects and be thinking about what work, pre‑work that you could do.

[17:58] A couple of the criteria that the government is looking at is, is this pipe in low‑income areas? Does it service low‑income customers? Is it in a more rural place or more urban place? Which I guess, that’s everywhere, [laughs] but that’s what they put in the bill.

[18:16] That’s what they put in the legislation. Be thinking about that. Be thinking about, are there jobs that could be created by you getting this money to execute these projects?

[18:27] Then also too, one of the things that’s in the bill. FEMSA and most people want to use the money to replace pipe, but there’s also another caveat in the bill, in the legislation that says, “Or purchase equipment.” 

[18:44] Be thinking about ways that you could use this grant money to purchase equipment to meet that specification or those characters that they list out, help the economy, avoid incidents and fatalities, help the environment.

[19:03] I know it’s burdensome to apply for a grant, some paperwork you’ve got to do, hopefully not a lot. That’s what we’re working with PHMSA, to make sure it’s not a lot. At the same time, I’ve definitely told people, “If you’ve got an idea, you’re willing to put in a little bit of work, go for it.” What’s the worst that can happen? They tell you no. [laughs]

[19:24] Jim:  Let me ask you a clarifying question. This has passed. This is something that is passed, and it’s just now in the details. Second question is, how much money are we talking about in this whole bucket, so to speak?

[19:39] Stuart: It has passed. This was in the bill that President Biden signed last November. The money is out there. There’s wonky terms, authorized, appropriated. Needless to say, it’s out there. It’s ready to be spent. It’s a billion dollars.

[19:59] James: With a B.

[20:01] Stuart: B, bah, bah, bah, billion.

[20:03] Jim: With a B, billion. Wow.

[20:07] Stuart: Yeah. $200 million for five years. I know, Jim, you definitely can think about the utilities that can spend that much, not a billion, but spend a lot of money replacing cast iron pipe or replacing pipe. Each utility, the most they can get is $125 million. [laughs]

[20:32] James: It’s still all right.

[20:38] Stuart: To me, there’s a handful of utilities that can spend that much money, but there’s still a handful that don’t need that much.

[20:50] Maybe I’m not even saying this, but there’s enough to go around and to make a really good improvement to improve our nation’s infrastructure, especially in the utility space.

[21:02] James: Stuart, one last question on that. It made me think. Almost need to think of this like a project‑by‑project basis, because it could be other things within that project that is funded under it as well, or is it only the pipe…?

[21:26] In other words, if I’m doing a pipe replacement, is it all things around that project that could be covered, or is it only the equipment used in it? Could it be the services and other things, on a project‑by‑project basis? That’s probably the little bit of “We don’t know yet.”

[21:44] Stuart: Yeah, details to be worked out. Again, go for it. That’s what I’m going to encourage our members to do, is put it in there. Include engineering costs, include…

[21:58] James: New hires, whatever resources you need to get. That’s what I was wondering. I’m familiar with grants in other spaces in the area.

[22:09] Again, to me, it’s always by project, a little bit. “We’re going to do this project here, or this series of projects, and here’s what we need to accomplish it.” It’s more bundled in. Very cool.

[22:22] Stuart: One of the things I was going to say real fast, having a conversation with a couple of folks, is maybe you need to improve your GIS to help show this grant money is going to help this part of your county.

[22:39] That costs money to improve GIS. You invest in that, now you’re fortunate to get the grant program, so the money you would have had to spend on replacing the pipe, as an example, you can now shift that over to fix your GIS and get it up to snuff.

[22:55] Now you’ve got the federal government helping you out appraise the project. Looking holistically at a budget, as a city, is a better way to think about it.

[23:03] James: They just call you directly, Stuart and you would just screen this up?

[23:08] [laughter]

[23:08] Jim: How do they find out more?

[23:11] James: By hand, custom?

[23:10] Stuart: No. We’re going to help as much as we can just as a trade association.

[23:15] James: No doubt.

[23:16] Stuart: Just recognizing resources are limited, but at the end of the day, it’s your city. You’re going to have to put in a little bit of elbow grease, get that application submitted. By all means, we want to be resourceful, point people to the right direction, but the city has got to apply for it.

[23:32] James: Huge opportunity. Jimmy, if that doesn’t make sense of why this was the first of that spotlight that we did. Really when I heard…Stuart and I had a meeting, I don’t know months ago. I said, “Man, if you had just two minutes to tell the world something,” and he goes, “Man, I got it.”

[23:51] Jim: [inaudible].

[23:52] James: Then when I heard about it, I was like, “We’re going to need a little bit more than two minutes.”

[23:56] Stuart: [laughs]

[23:56] Jim: I think it’s…

[23:58] James: It’s a good place to start.

[23:59] Jim: A couple takeaways just to wrap that one up. The membership of the APGA, the value of learning about these through the membership and being members and all that. I’ll have to say, from my perspective, I have never heard of an operator from coast‑to‑coast, top to bottom, that has ever said to me, “My system is perfect. I never, I don’t need any upgrades.”

[24:24] James: I don’t need any more resources.

[24:26] Jim: Anyways, again I encourage all the audience that is applicable, to reach out.

[24:33] James: Stuart, I just think about all the projects that are already planned for the next five years, at places. Would you like help to pay for those, that you are already planning to do? Or do you just want to write that check yourself?

[24:48] I think of those that are just one‑to‑one kind of thing. Man, what an awesome opportunity.

[24:54] Jim: Yeah. A lot of the projects are in a rate case or rate base. This is a good thing all the way through to the constituents that are actually paying the…

[25:04] James: Stuart, do you want to come back once a month and talk about this program?

[25:07] [laughter]

[25:07] Stuart: I can. I got to correct Jim though, because our guys are not‑for‑profit.

[25:15] James: I do that all the time.

[25:15] Stuart: We don’t get the rate cases.

[25:17] Jim: No, I’m sorry.

[25:18] James: Don’t get it twisted, Jimmy.

[25:22] Jim: X recovering investor utility. I’m sorry. That’s what I’m trying to [inaudible] for over at…

[25:28] Stuart: We’ll pray for you.

[25:28] James: I know.

[25:30] [laughter]

[25:30] Stuart: Just kidding.

[25:31] Jim: I’ve had to [inaudible] sign up right here that I go to every day and a little…

[25:37] James: Just kidding. We love all operators. [laughs]

[25:39] Stuart: No, absolutely.

[25:40] James: I kid you all not.

[25:43] Stuart: I definitely appreciate the investor‑owned utilities. It is a little different from the structure and in no doubt, we do have a handful of public utilities that are governed by PUCs, but I think that whole not‑for‑profit thing is universal.

[25:59] I think too, the point being is you got a 30‑year plan to replace all your cast iron pipe or hopefully sooner than that, but 30 for instance. Now, you get this money, you can either use the money you were going to use 30 years to do double. You short down to 15, or you finish faster, whatever it may be.

[26:20] James: Eat some of that cost. Maybe some of your on‑ramps a little bit nicer, because you can spend [laughs] 125,000, I mean million dollars on. Yeah, wow. Pretty cool.

[26:31] Jim: James maybe a little bit of that. Anyways, let me advance. I have a topic that’s been on my mind for a while and I think Stuart and I could probably geek out on it a little bit. If you’ve been on any news platform anywhere, whether it’s LinkedIn, or one of the news outlets, you see a lot of things referring to RNG, Renewable Natural Gas.

[26:53] I would say, as a total, I would say a lot of the people just don’t understand it. Stuart, can you bring RNG, Renewable Natural Gas into the conversation or help the audience understand exactly what that means? Let’s dive a little bit deeper into that.

[27:08] Stuart: Yeah, and just thinking back about the previous topic. The pipeline modernization, the grant to help improve the pipeline system. This RNG topic is related because if you see our utility infrastructure as moving natural gas in the future, natural gas now.

[27:33] Then these lower carbon fuels like RNG, potentially hydrogen, then investing in that asset now is so critical. RNG is, I called it a lower carbon fuel. That’s the term tossed about, because what it is, it’s captured methane, captured mostly CH4 or it can be cleaned up to be CH4 from waste. There’s multiple feedstocks out there that can be captured, cleaned up and then injected into the pipeline.

[28:11] James: Can you break those down? Stuart, give us some examples. Some of us that aren’t as smart as you and Jim.

[28:17] Jim: As Stuart.

[28:19] [laughter]

[28:19] James: As Stuart.

[28:21] Stuart: I’d say the big ones and the ones that we’re keeping an eye on, because it just makes sense for our members, is one, agriculture. If you think about cows, chickens, pigs, there’s all kinds of waste from those. Either making milk from a dairy cow, or making beef, or pork, chicken.

[28:48] The reason that makes sense for our members is because a lot of our members are located in rural parts of our country. That’s where there just happens to be a lot more agriculture. Right down the road is a chicken plant or a pork producer.

[29:06] Jim: Can I throw one at you too? Even the vegetable side, when I ran the food and kindred portion up in the Upper Midwest, the amount of waste that comes from just a corn packing plant. You have to think about millions of years of corn go through it. The husk gets taken off and gets dumped.

[29:27] They were actually years ago, this is 10, 12, 15 years ago, they were looking at ways to actually tap into that and put that back into the grid. Then there’s a few challenges with, but even in the vegetable side.

[29:41] Stuart: Yeah. All that is waste, right. You’re taking that that would just be methane emitted, CH4 emitted as it breaks down, capturing that. You have to invest a little bit, you have to put in some digester, some equipment to clean that up.

[30:02] Once you do, it’s natural gas, is what you’re burning in your home right now. You take out a loop, if you want to call it that. Take out a step by adding a few, but essentially, you’re reusing stuff that would be wasted.

[30:17] James: Give me another one.

[30:18] Stuart: A couple other is, so water and wastewater. If you have your wastewater gets sent to somewhere. Sometimes it sits in a pond, as it sits you get gases trickle off the top. Let’s capture that, clean it up and reuse it. Again, it makes sense for an APGA member, because our members are Munis, municipal utilities.

[30:45] James: They may be in charge of that as well.

[30:47] Stuart: Exactly. You got your buddy down the Hall that’s over the water department, just talk to him. Then there’s also municipal solid waste, your trash. Again, often a part of a city utility. Capture the gases off those landfills, clean them up.

[31:07] I think the cool thing, and Jim, this might get your gears going. What do you think about garbage trucks? There’s a lot of garbage trucks that have natural gas engines. You’re powering the garbage truck with the garbage.

[31:23] James: That’s a whole new segments Stuart, right now. I know some of it is not fully new, Jim talks about it all the time. Some of the past year, agendas were full of people talking about just that. Bringing a vac truck in and pulling that and recapturing it. Using it to fuel their trucks, things like that.

[31:49] We got companies that are coming out that can help people get there. Again, when I think about that, Stuart, as our project. I’m looking at a project and I can come back and say, “I’m going to add these services in to recapture here,” and work that into my grant.

[32:06] Now I’ve got that ability to meet my goals as well, and I was going to do the work already. That’s where you can get a little creative too in this space. Not creative. That sounds bad.

[32:20] Jim: No, you’re right, you’re thinking outside of the box and…

[32:25] James: Rigging the system.

[32:26] Jim: I’m just going to add in. The landfills, in Florida, they’re called mountains because that’s about the only mountains in Florida, in Southern Florida.

[32:33] James: Yeah, gross.

[32:34] Jim: Every night when you drive by and you see flares burning. A big landfill can produce 2,000 M a day, 3,000 M a day potentially. That’s enough to heat 20 Minnesota homes for a whole year. That’s a lot of natural, or methane, we’ll call it. If it can be put in a usable form, captured and put into the grid, what a win‑win we’re getting off that.

[33:01] Stuart: I get frustrated with just the rhetoric of no longer needing pipelines, no longer needing utilities, no longer needing that utility asset, the gas utility, because there’s so much potential and we need to invest in that.

[33:21] James: Infrastructures all [inaudible].

[33:22] Stuart: Yeah. Why not take something that would just be emitted and reuse it? There of course, I’m not going to deny, you do get emissions from combusting because it’s a thermal application, but at the same time, there’s also scientific data that shows CO2 is not as harmful as methane. Let’s take the methane out of the air, or potentially, and put it to use.

[33:49] Jim: Definitely.

[33:51] James: I’ll say it. Last year, I’ve never seen a topic on more agendas, and even though onramp of this year, and the committees I work in and boards that I sit on. I’m seeing it again this year, everyone is talking about this topic. Worth revisiting down the road too.

[34:11] Stuart, our time has come to an end. Before we go, I wanted to give you the spot, this…

[34:21] [laughter]

[34:21] Jim: Did he freeze up on us?

[34:31] Stuart: I think he did.

[34:32] Jim: Stuart, I’m going to jump in. We’re having a little technical difficulty, but Stuart, we are wrapping up. You have the floor. Is there anything you want to give it all away, say something to the audience, in any capacity? The stage is yours, sir.

[34:48] Stuart: I should have prepped better for this. I’ve seen some of the latest episodes with you all and know this is what you do here to close things out. I will say just to further distinguish public utilities in the utility sector and just recognize that we are not‑for‑profit.

[35:15] When you think about that market’s instability, recognize that our goal is to keep natural gas cost at cost. There’s no need to go above and beyond because we’re not‑for‑profit. We’re trying to do the best we can to recognize, let’s keep the markets as stable as we can.

[35:39] Then also too, along those same lines is we want to be a part of that clean energy future solution.

[35:45] We want to have the assets, we appreciate the federal government willing to invest in our assets to transport natural gas now, transport RNG, transport potentially hydrogen.

[35:59] I enjoy working for APGA because of our members, because of the quality of our members, just their desire to treat their customers right and treat them well. I’m happy to support that, and appreciate you guys letting me share that message.

[36:18] Jim: Always.

[36:19] James: Sorry guys, I got a little excited and left early.

[36:23] Jim: No, you’re all right.

[36:24] James: Sometimes I hit the wrong button.

[36:27] [laughter]

[36:27] Jim:  You’re back, though, brother. You’re back.

[36:30] James:  Stuart, thanks for joining us today.

[36:34] Jim:  Absolutely.

[36:35] James:  Always a pleasure, man.

[36:37] Jim:  Always. Thank you. We will see you again soon on here, Stuart. Thank you for joining us today. We’ll see you next week on “Coffee with Jim & James.” Until then, stay safe.

[36:47] James:  This is where we dance out, Stuart. Do you all dance…

[36:52] [crosstalk]

[36:52] Jim:  I dance.

[36:53] James:  Oh, Jimmy does, and we just watch.

[36:54] Jim:  I just rock it backward.

[36:56] James:  Just for a minute.

[36:56] [background music] 

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