Published in Las Cruces Bulletin 11.25.22
By C.T. Barnes
Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) took part in the 2022 American Public Gas Association (APGA) Annual Conference this past July. The APGA conference is the largest gathering of publicly-owned and community-owned natural gas professionals across the nation, which LCU attends each year to be sure they are bringing the best practices, equipment, and technology to the Las Cruces community.
This year LCU was able to send five of their top natural gas utility leaders to represent the City of Las Cruces. During the 4-day conference there were vendors, presentations, and time set aside for networking with natural gas utility professionals from all areas of the United States.
“This is a great opportunity for LCU to keep up to date with what is happening in the industry, how other states are handling electrification efforts to reduce carbon footprints, and to be informed about need to know changes coming to the industry,” stated LCU Technical Gas Service Supervisor and Interim Gas System Operations Supervisor Pete Duran.
LCU spoke with many vendors to ensure their tools and equipment stay up to date. LCU connected with a vendor who was showing a new leak detection product that can detect how much methane is being released if there is a small gas leak due to hardware. “This is coming down the regulatory side of measuring the release of methane,” stated Duran.
Always staying ahead of the curve, LCU is looking to get ahead of new federal regulations that require natural gas utility companies to measure the release of methane from their consumer’s use of natural gas. “This new tool is great for LCU to look into now, so when the new methane monitoring regulation hits the State of New Mexico, LCU will already be in compliance and well into practice of measuring our methane emissions,” stated LCU Utilities Deputy Director Natural Gas and Energy Lucio Garcia.
LCU was also able to network with many natural gas utility companies and swap ideas and best practices on the challenges they are facing with transitioning to renewable energy. As the goal of all utility providers are to become carbon neutral, natural gas is still important for the transition. “Natural gas is not only a good bridge to renewable energy and lowering carbon emissions, but it is also a fundamental energy source in the future,” stated Duran.
LCU walked away with more than just knowledge of upcoming technology and new networking connections in the industry. LCU was awarded the 2022 Safety Management Excellence Award. A nationally recognized award was awarded to LCU for operating at the highest safety levels and excelling in the field of safety management.
“We are honored to receive such an award for our continuous service and safety practices we bring to the Las Cruces community,” Garcia stated. “I look forward to presenting at the 2022 APGA Operations Conference this Fall,” Garcia concluded.
LCU – Your Utility Connection. Customer Central can be reached at 575-541-2111 from 8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides clean, safe, and reliable services to Las Cruces residents and businesses. Learn more at: las-cruces.org/180/Utilities
For emergencies, call Dispatch at 526-0500.
PHOTO 1: LCU Gas Utility Worker working on natural gas lines - Courtesy LCU