As your elected State Director, I wanted to provide you with an update on the activities at the most recent NPGA Board of Directors meeting held October 16 – 18, 2023 in Louisville, Kentucky.
The Marketers Section hosted a ten-year retrospective conversation on lessons learned from the winter of 2013 – 2014. Meeting attendees also enjoyed a fireside chat with the Executive Director of Kentucky’s Office of Energy Policy, PAC events, and much more. NPGA announced the formation of a Legal Action Fund and adopted a new strategic plan. I encourage you to read my report.
Thank you for the opportunity to represent you.
See below to read report or Click HERE to read on NPGA’s Member Dashboard.
NPGA’s Board of Directors met in Louisville, Kentucky October 16 – 18, 2023. The week’s business included Committee and Section meetings, a ten-year retrospective on lessons learned from the winter of 2013 – 2014, a heat pump panel discussion, a fireside chat with Kenya Stump, Executive Director of Kentucky’s Office of Energy Policy; and much more. The PropanePAC hosted an event at the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory on Monday night and members enjoyed the Board of Directors reception on Tuesday evening. Here are some of the key policy discussions and updates from NPGA:
Consumer Gas Furnace Restrictions
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued the “pre-publication” version of its final consumer furnace rulemaking. NPGA – along with natural gas coalition partners – submitted four separate and extensive comments on this proposal in 2022. The 575-page rule would be effective in late 2028 and eliminate non-condensing gas furnaces and a subset of condensing furnaces.
NPGA has been tracking this rulemaking diligently and is disappointed in the DOE’s action. It would directly harm consumers by forcing costly retrofits or fuel switching, thus disproportionately impacting socioeconomically disadvantaged communities.
NPGA has geared up its regulatory, legal, lobbying, engineering, and economic experts, as well as cemented a response coalition. On the Congressional front, NPGA has worked with Representatives Fallon (TX) and Fischbach (MN) to introduce an amendment to the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Water bill that would “prohibit any funding to be used to finalize, implement, or enforce the proposed rule.”
NPGA, NYPGA, and Mulhern Gas Sue New York State in Federal Court
A coalition led by the National Propane Gas Association, the New York Propane Gas Association, and Mulhern Gas of Hudson, NY filed a federal lawsuit against the New York Department of State, New York State Building Code Council, and others on October 12. The case was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York.
The State of New York has banned fuel gas infrastructure and appliances in most newly constructed buildings beginning on December 31, 2025. NPGA and its co-plaintiffs contend that this action is preempted by, and in direct conflict with, the Federal Energy Policy & Conservation Act (EPCA). The EPCA expressly preempts state regulations concerning the energy use of appliances, subject to a few narrow exceptions which are not applicable.
Representing NPGA and its co-plaintiffs is the esteemed counsel that represented the California Restaurant Association in successfully overturning the Berkeley, CA gas ban before the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. Additional plaintiffs include national, state, and local groups representing home builders, plumbing contractors, and gas fired products manufacturers as well as plumbing, electrical, and transportation worker unions (including workers who ensure the safety of National Grid customers). Numerous propane companies operating across New York state also contributed to funding the litigation. Having unions join is a first – they have no skin in the electrification game other than the best interests of the citizens of the state to prevent an overstrained grid from blackouts in the heart of freezing NY winters.
NPGA Legal Action Fund
NPGA has established a Legal Action Fund to proactively combat illegal governmental overreach that seeks to eliminate energy choice. NPGA is currently involved in seven federal lawsuits and anticipates the need to potentially file more in the coming months. Recent and ongoing legal battles threatening the survival of the propane industry compelled the NPGA Executive Committee to devote significant, long-term resources to this fight.
The new Legal Action Fund will provide financial resources to use the court system to challenge illegal anti-energy choice laws, regulations, and policies at the federal, state, and local level. Recognizing the magnitude of the challenges the industry faces, NPGA is committing $1 million from its reserves to launch these efforts now. NPGA will seek in the coming years to expand the pool to $2.5 million from reserves, use of budgetary surplus, and/or voluntary member contributions.
A 5-member Legal Action Committee – chaired by Tom Manson of Eastern Propane & Oil – will provide oversight to the Fund.
Strategic Plan 2024-2026
NPGA’s Executive Committee adopted a strategic plan applicable to 2024-2026. This plan largely tracks the current plan where all priorities are viewed through the top-level lens of protecting energy choice inclusive of propane by positioning it as part of America’s clean energy solution in contrast to electricity alone, and advancing the reputation of safety, reliability, and affordability.
The primary changes in the upcoming strategic plan from the current plan are a firm commitment to leading litigation to protect propane and a firm commitment to pursuing advocacy priorities of renewable fuels that increase the usage of propane.
Marketer Section Chair Daniel Dixon introduced District 5 Director Tom Jaenicke to provide highlights from the district breakouts. Director Jaenicke noted that electrification and decarbonization challenges persist around the country. PERC’s Bridget Kidd gave an update on the activities being pursued by the Council, including National Propane Day and the Leadership in Energy Ambassador Program. To round out the Section meeting, Chair Dixon moderated a panel discussion and retrospective look at the Winter of 2013-14. The panel of experts included DD Alexander of Global Gas, Steve Kossuth of World Fuel Services, and Tom Van Buren of Meritum Energy.
Governmental Affairs Committee
The Governmental Affairs Committee convened to receive updates from NPGA staff and discuss pressing advocacy issues impacting the propane industry. As is customary, the Committee broke into three task force sessions – federal legislative, federal regulatory, and state advocacy.
In the legislative session, NPGA staff provided political and policy updates from Capitol Hill. After an unprecedented motion to vacate, the House of Representatives has been without a Speaker for over two weeks, bringing all federal legislative action to a near halt. Once the House elects a new Speaker, NPGA staff believe the association will achieve meaningful results in year-end legislative vehicles, such as appropriations and NDAA.
During the regulatory session, association staff provided updates on the numerous regulatory actions the Biden Administration is pursuing through the Department of Energy, such as the Water Heater Rule, Furnace Rule, Boiler Rule, and Consumer Cooktop Rule. The group also discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s Risk Management Program and the path forward on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Hours of Service regulations.
Lastly, in the state advocacy breakout session, NPGA staff updated the group on efforts to expand choice protections to end-use applications, such as furnaces and stoves. Additionally, the task force discussed the growing interests of state officials in specific programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from residential and commercial buildings, including statewide carbon markets and clean heat standards.
The PropanePAC Steering Committee met and discussed current fundraising efforts, PAC events, disbursements, peer-to-peer engagement, and continued efforts to increase corporate engagement and contributions.
The PAC’s well-attended events in Louisville included the very successful Bourbon and Bats fundraiser. The education event, Propane, Politics and Coffee, featured political expert Jon Deuser, President and CEO of Smith-Free Group, NPGA’s consulting firm for the association’s advocacy work on Capitol Hill. Deuser shared his perspective on the Speaker of the House race and the political landscape in Washington, DC, and made some predictions for the presidential race.
Renewable Fuels Committee
NPGA launched a Renewable Fuels Committee (RFC) over the summer and the group met in person during the Board meeting. Jeff Stewart led a discussion on the committee’s formation and outlined its objectives and scope. The RFC has 4 sub-committees: Federal Legislative, Federal Regulatory, Codes & Standards, and State Advocacy – those sub-committees track to NPGA’s 4 pillars of advocacy. The primary overall goal is to guide NPGA on advocacy priorities for renewable fuels.
Technology, Standards and Safety Committee
The Board of Directors approved four proposals developed by the Technology, Standards and Safety Committee. These proposals will be submitted to NFPA for the next development cycle of NFPA 58 “LP-Gas Code.” The proposals will accomplish the following:
- Provide more detail through examples of where hydrostatic relief valves in propane piping systems are required and where they are not
- Expand the range of application for pilot operated relief valves to provide greater options for protecting containers from overpressure events
- Propose to remove the decades-old limitation on the number of bulk storage containers that can be grouped together, based on the adoption more recently of requirements that improve product control and containment
- Editorially correct Table 184.108.40.206 (B) in the Code by removing an incorrect reference to another code section
NPGF Scholarship Committee
The Scholarship Committee elected Lisa Gerwitz (EDP), Jennifer Jackson (AmeriGas), and Ed Varney (Top Line Management/Metsa Tank) Chair, Vice Chair, and Treasurer respectively.
A fundraising Golf Tournament is planned for Thursday, April 4, 2024 (immediately before Expo in Charlotte, NC). The course and bus transportation have been secured and more information about golfing and sponsorships is forthcoming. Please save the date!
The Scholarship Committee is growing and actively seeking new participation. Members interested in joining can contact Scholarship Program Manager Maril Olson for more information.
Women in Propane Council
Over 30 members attended the Women in Propane Council meeting in Louisville where there was lots of good news to report:
- The council is comfortably in the black with over $60,00 in the bank.
- Membership is at an all-time high with over 30 corporate and over 90 individual members.
- Through the Leadership Lens podcasts are so popular, they are now aired every three weeks.
- The Leadership Lens Webinar series continues to draw good audiences.
- The Association Engagement program is on a roll: there are currently 16 WIP ambassadors covering 14 associations to spread the word on Women in Propane.
To find out more about this dynamic group, check out the WIP website HERE.