March 2019, Vol. 246, No. 3


SGA’s Chapman Promotes Clean Energy Future

P&GJ recently sat down with Adrian Chapman to discuss his new role as the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Southern Gas Association, and the outlook for SGA and the energy industry. Chapman is president and CEO of WGL Holdings, Inc. and Washington Gas and also serves as President, U.S. Utilities, for Washington Gas’ parent company, AltaGas Ltd. He has more than 36 years of leadership experience in the energy industry, and as president and CEO, he is responsible for overseeing all functions and activities of the regulated natural gas utility such as operations, customer service, engineering, construction, field operations, safety, rates, gas acquisition, information technology and human resources.

P&GJ: Can you tell us about your experience, and how you got involved with SGA?

Chapman: I’m proud to have served all of my career in the natural gas industry, which delivers a wide range of essential benefits to our economy and impacts the way we work, play and live each and every day. I have served for more than 36 years at Washington Gas, the regulated utility of WGL with more than 1.1 million customers across Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia.  

I’ve held various leadership roles at Washington Gas including in operations, regulatory affairs, energy acquisition, customer sales, economic analysis and more. Currently, as president and CEO of WGL and Washington Gas, I’m especially grateful to be part of and lead outstanding and bright teams that are as passionate about the role of natural gas to help fuel a promising future as a clean energy source for businesses and residents in our region and beyond. 

In addition, I have served on several boards of industry organizations and local charities across our area. I enjoy volunteering and supporting organizations that help those in need and also joining my industry colleagues to advocate for the virtues and benefits of natural gas. These including the Board of Directors and Leadership Council of the American Gas Association (AGA), the Board of Directors of the Gas Technology Institute, Greater Washington Partnership, Greater Washington Board of Trade, Virginia Business Council, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation and the Community Foundation of Northern Virginia, among others.

“We know as an industry
that we have an incredibly
positive message on our side and stand ready to defend the
importance of natural gas across the country. We’ll have to be even more savvy, vigilant and united in 2019 than ever to spread and reinforce our message.”

Getting connected to SGA was a natural fit. I started attending SGA events – such as its impressive annual management conference – and became involved with the SGA’s Gas Supply Marketing Committee, which allowed me to engage with fellow members who worked at pipelines, gas marketing firms, consulting firms and in the gas supply function at other LDCs. The depth and breadth of specialties, cross section of gas professionals, and seasoned experience of all with whom I interacted gave me a unique industry-wide perspective on the challenges and opportunities for natural gas across the country. In particular, at that earlier time, the focus was on what was taking place at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). This proved invaluable to me, considering the impact both organizations would have on the future of the natural gas industry, including Washington Gas.

P&GJ: What do you feel members gain most for their participation?

Chapman: There are incredible amounts of meaningful opportunities that SGA offers. I see members getting the most out of the organization when they encourage and support their own employees to become involved in SGA conferences, committee meetings and training events.  Those employees benefit from building contacts in the gas and energy industry that can help them and their companies be more successful in achieving their goals. 

Member employees (and their companies) can also benefit from the leadership development opportunities that come from SGA committee membership and committee leadership. Best of all, these committees represent all facets of energy company activities and address agendas developed and implemented based on each committee’s specific focus.

P&GJ: How have the needs and concerns of SGA member companies changed in the last 25 years?

Chapman: The needs and concerns of SGA member companies have evolved over the last 25 years consistent with the challenges and opportunities of our natural gas industry during that time.  Federal and state regulation changes have driven part of that, but what has also significantly guided the focus of SGA member companies is the ongoing technological advances and efficiency improvements that have come from the E&P side of the business.

This has created such a bountiful amount of natural gas to fuel our economy.  That significant growth in supply has made natural gas more affordable, which has coincided with the heightened sensitivity around limiting the harmful effects of natural gas as an energy source on greenhouse gas emissions. 

That process has spawned more aggressive, influential and sustained environmental advocacy efforts over the years, which aim to limit the future benefits of natural gas and its role in boosting our economy and the help it provides to minimize carbon emission as compared to traditional carbon-emitting fuels.

P&GJ: How should the industry go about strengthening its perception by the public, particularly in the face of growing opposition?

Chapman: The main action that can yield the strongest results is that we in the industry all must serve as advocates for the benefits that natural gas brings to our country and the world.  We cannot take for granted what we know, believe in and have witnessed time again – that is, the tangible benefits of natural gas. We must be more proactive in creating advocates within each of our companies so that we can be more effective in strengthening the perception of those natural gas attributes, such as affordability, reliability and clean-burning.  

SGA has been instrumental in that process by working with other natural gas industry associations to design, develop and deliver a training program available to SGA member companies to build a larger cadre of natural gas advocates. 

In addition, the SGA advocacy training initiative, called the Natural Gas Champions training program, includes a web-based platform that we will be rolling out in February and highlighted at all SGA conferences during the year. This will equip all participating members with the techniques, content and best practices to represent our industry with confidence in front of a variety of audiences. 

My theme for SGA this year was specifically created to highlight the clean energy aspect of natural gas that is vitally important to communicate regarding our current and future contribution to a cleaner energy environment.  The words were meant to inspire and to speak to the very ideals we hold as leaders in the industry: Shaping America’s Clean Energy Future Together.  

P&GJ: In talking with members and others in the industry, what do you feel is the consensus outlook for 2019?

Chapman: The future is very bright for our industry, and there is no shortage of opportunity on the horizon. We continue to witness great strides in environmentally sustainable gas production, transmission and distribution.  At the same time, we see those with a purely environmental focus continue to misunderstand and misrepresent how sustainable the natural gas value chain is. This leads to misinformation which, due to protests, grassroots campaigning and other advocacy tactics, have successfully blocked progress on several important projects. 

Their efforts have limited the ability of our industry to physically build the infrastructure necessary to support the clean energy needed to fuel the economic growth we all want for our country. We know as an industry that we have an incredibly positive message on our side and stand ready to defend the importance of natural gas across the country. We’ll have to be even more savvy, vigilant and united in 2019 than ever to spread and reinforce our message. 

P&GJ: What would you most like to accomplish during your time as the organization’s head?

Chapman: I’d like to build our SGA membership across the energy sector and continue to improve our industry’s ability to speak clearly and effectively about natural gas’ contribution to a growing clean energy future. P&GJ

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