State Director Report June 2021

2021-2022 NPGA Officers Sworn in at Board Meeting

L to R: Denis Gagne, Bob Barry, Michelle Bimson Maggi, Tom Van Buren, Jeff Stewart

Robert Barry of Bergquist, Inc. assumed the role of Chair of the National Propane Gas Association at the NPGA Board of Directors Meeting on June 8, 2021. Bob has served NPGA in numerous capacities including Distributor Section Chair, Audit Committee Chair, and member of the Executive Committee and Member Services Committee. As Chair, his focus will be to communicate with the propane community on what NPGA’s role is in their lives and continue our ongoing collaboration with the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC). As a community, we are under scrutiny as a fossil fuel; we can demonstrate that we are an essential component of a clear path to decarbonization.

The officer slate for 2021-22 was also confirmed at the meeting. Michelle Bimson Maggi of AmeriGas/UGI will serve as Chair-Elect; Jeff Stewart of Blue Star Gas will serve as Vice Chair; and Tom Van Buren of Meritum Energy Holdings will serve as Treasurer.

Legislation Enacted in 16 States to Protect Propane and Natural Gas from Bans

In an effort to protect consumer energy choice, laws now exist in 16 states to prohibit cities and counties from banning the use of propane and natural gas in residential and commercial applications.

In 2020 and thus far in 2021, laws enacted in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming are protecting an estimated 2.7 billion gallons of propane consumption. Bills are currently on the governors’ desks in Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire, while bills in Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania remain active in the legislature. Additional efforts are planned for 2022 to pursue similar legislation in other states.

For more information on these efforts and NPGA’s support of a pilot program to assist state associations, see three presentations from NPGA’s Policy Forum.

Marketers Section Meeting

The Marketers Section met on the morning of June 7, with more than 125 participating both in-person or virtually. The first half of the webinar centered on procedural business, including the selection of the section’s leadership for the upcoming association year. Shannon McWhorter of Sequoia Gas Co. was elected as the section’s next Chair, while Chad Kroening of Boehlke Bottled Gas Corp. was chosen as Vice Chair. Intrastate (independent) and interstate (multistate) marketers each selected their three representatives to the next NPGA Executive Committee. David Bertelsen of Matheson Tri-Gas, Thomas Knauff of Energy Distribution Partners, and Stephen Kossuth of AmeriGas Propane LP will represent interstate marketers while Joe Buschur of McMahan’s Bottle Gas, Chris Cafarella of Sharp Energy, and Thomas Manson of Eastern Propane Gas, Inc. will represent intrastate marketers on the committee. Additionally, the newly appointed marketer representatives to the Propane Education and Research Council were announced: Casey Cramton of Dead River Company, Brilynn Johnson of AmeriGas Propane LP, and Stuart Weidie of Blossman Gas Inc.

The second half of the meeting focused on energy choice and the global perspective on gas ban policies. NPGA CEO Steve Kaminski hosted a panel with industry partners from Europe and the World LP Gas Association (WLPGA) for a discussion on how they have responded to such policies being pursed in their countries.  Henry Cubbon of DCC LPG, Esther Busscher of SHV Energy, and Michael Kelly with the WLPGA provided insight on how their organization has reacted to European policymakers taking more aggressive action on combating climate change via the European Green Deal. These responses have included bolder messaging to customers on propane’s environmental benefits, the creation of sustainability plans, the introduction of new green products (renewable propane), and proactive advocacy with regulators. Since Europe is ahead of the U.S. in terms of tackling climate change, many of these responses can serve as a roadmap for how NPGA and the American propane industry can best approach and adapt to increasingly pro-green governing and consumer audiences.

PropanePAC: Propane, Politics, and Coffee

As part of its Propane, Politics, and Coffee speaker series, NPGA’s PropanePAC hosted a panel discussion with advocacy staff to get their insights on how advocacy has been conducted in a locked-down Congress as a result of COVID-19 and security threats.  PropanePAC Steering Committee Chair Chad Kroening and Political Affairs Director David Lowe led the discussion with NPGA’s Michael Baker, Peter Ferrell, and Tyler Lawrence. Each shared their unique perspective on the state of affairs in Washington, DC over the past year, on what outreach and engagement strategies have proved useful, and how the politics of COVID-19 and security will play out in advocacy for the remainder of the year. They highlighted how facility visits have become a valuable substitute for DC-based industry engagement.  Additionally, it was noted how NPGA’s PropanePAC continues to provide direct access to candidates despite these many restrictions.

Board Approves Two TS&S Committee Proposals

The Board approved two proposals developed by the Technology, Standards & Safety Committee. The first proposal will be submitted to NFPA 472, a standard for first response to hazardous materials incidents. The proposed change will emphasize to first responders that propane bulk plants have valves such as internal valves and emergency shutoff valves that are relied upon to maintain safe control of product in the event of an uncontrolled release.

The second proposal will result in a request to the Z21/83 Committee to address the need for performance standards for appliances that are installed on mobile food catering vehicles, more commonly known as “food trucks.”  Because current appliance standards do not typically address the vibration and forces associated with a moving vehicle over the road, the TS&S Committee would be supportive of efforts to develop such safety performance standards.

Gagne Presents NPGA Awards

Chair’s Citations
Chair Denis Gagne awarded four citations to individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to the industry.

L to R: Leslie Anderson, Denis Gagne, Joy Alafia

Leslie Anderson of the Propane Gas Association of New England and Joy Alafia of the Western Propane Gas Association  were recognized for their extraordinary leadership in the face of extreme legislative and regulatory challenges from those that want to eliminate gas. Leslie developed a coalition to introduce legislation in New Hampshire that would prohibit municipalities from banning propane and natural gas. Joy and WPGA helped develop first-of-its-kind legislation to incentivize the production of renewable propane. Their work is guiding the national conversation on challenging the electrification narrative.

Rob Freeman

Rob Freeman of Freeman Gas, Inc. has been a major contributor to the cause of safety and the NPGA codes and standards advocacy program for many years, including his service as Chair of the Technology and Standards Committee from 2001 to 2003. Additionally, Rob served as PERC’s overall Council Chair and most recently as acting chair of their Safety and Technical Training Working Group. He played an important role in the discussions that ultimately led to the sale of NPGA’s CETP Certification Program to PERC. Rob’s contributions will have a lasting and positive effect on the safety of the propane industry.

Bruce Swiecicki

Traditionally, a Chair’s citation is awarded to a volunteer member of the association who has made important contributions to NPGA and/or the cause of the propane industry. However, association staff member Bruce Swiecicki, NPGA’s Senior Technical Advisor, has contributed greatly to the cause and mission of the association over the course of his 27 years at NPGA. He has facilitated the work of the TS&S Committee, is a long-time voting member of the NFPA 58 Technical Committee, and serves on several other very important code committees that directly or indirectly impact the propane industry, including the National Fuel Gas Code Committee (NFPA 54). Bruce’s invaluable technical expertise supports staff internally and NPGA’s members externally.

State Director of the Year

L to R: Denis Gagne, Judy Taranovich

Judy Taranovich is active in just about everything NPGA offers, from the Benchmarking Council to Propane Days. The sole owner and manager of Proctor Gas in Vermont, Judy is very active in PGANE, VFDA, and NPGA, where she also serves on each association’s board of directors. She also is at the forefront of workforce development and political outreach for New England. Judy’s is recognized for her accomplishments at her company and for the propane industry.

NPGA Board of Directors Welcomes New Members

The NPGA Board of Directors voted to approve eight new directors on June 8, 2021. Welcome, new Directors!

Bruce Bott, ADD Systems – New Jersey Director

Tom Daniels, Valley Wide Cooperative – Idaho Director

Gerry Goody, Montana Energy Alliance – Montana Director

Heather Haldeman, Blue Flame, Inc. – West Virginia Director

Paula Moore, Blackburn Propane – Oklahoma Director

Eric Payne, DCC Propane – District 4 Director

Rita Pecilunas, Otodata – Services Section Director

Danny Silverman, Angus Energy – Services Section Director