Frequently Asked Questions: Clean Energy

  • Can I repair or modify my own propane system?

  • Modifications to any part of a propane system is not advisable and unsafe. All repairs and modifications to any part of a propane system should be handled by Hawaii Gas. Performing repairs and making modifications or additions to your propane system is not advisable. You will be safer in addition to it being cheaper in the long run.

  • How do I prepare my tank for a natural disaster?

  • Make sure you and your family knows what propane smells like: propane has a strong, unpleasant smell. Show your family where the outdoor propane supply and indoor propane appliances are located, and teach them how to turn them off. Remember, you should only shut off your propane supply if instructed to do so.

    Consider anchoring or bracing your tank to help prevent it from moving, sliding, or falling over during a natural disaster. Contact Hawaii Gas for more information. Clear the area surrounding your tank of any tall or heavy objects that could fall on it during a natural disaster. Install a carbon monoxide (CO) detector on every level of your home. Make a list of instructions on how to turn off electricity, propane, and water supplies, and post the list in a convenient location that is made known to all family members.

  • How safe is LNG?

  • The liquefied natural gas industry has an impeccable safety record. Comprehensive safety practices and procedures for handling, transporting and storing LNG are well established and regulated. According to a Department of Energy report, LNG transports experienced no serious accident at sea or in port in the past 40 years. In large part this is due to comprehensive safety and security programs for LNG tankers and receiving terminals. To better understand LNG please view our Introduction to LNG video.

  • Is propane environmentally friendly?

  • Yes. Propane is one of the lightest, simplest hydrocarbons in existence, and, as a result, is one of the cleanest burning of all fossil fuels. Propane gas is nontoxic, so it’s not harmful to soil and water. It is also an approved, alternative clean fuel listed in the 1990 Clean Air Act and the National Energy Policy Act of 1992.

    Propane is also a natural by-product of the gas refining process, which means that we don’t have to do any additional drilling or mining in order to gather propane. It doesn’t contaminate soil or groundwater, and when it burns it emits extremely low levels of carbon dioxide and particulates compared to other sources of fuel.

  • How much SNG do you produce?

  • Homes and businesses on our SNG pipeline system consume approximately 24 million therms or 2.3 billion cubic feet of SNG every year. That’s the equivalent to producing approximately 100 million hot showers.

  • Is LNG toxic? Does it have an odor? Is it corrosive?

  • LNG is colorless, odorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. Hawaii Gas will add an odorant as part of its standard safety procedures

  • Is propane safe?

  • Absolutely. Propane is as safe for your home and business as any other fuel, and has advantages over many of them. It has a narrow flammability range, and because it’s released from pressurized containers in a vapor form, it can’t be accidentally swallowed like gasoline or alcohol fuels.

  • What is SNG?

  • SNG is methane produced by converting naphtha, a by-product of oil refining, into methane. This process occurs at Hawaii Gas’ SNG Plant in Campbell Industrial Park. While SNG is similar in properties to natural gas found in the earth all over the world, SNG does contain less methane than natural gas. Despite the difference in methane purity, SNG and natural gas can still be blended together without any difference to our customers. SNG and natural gas are distributed to the greater Honolulu area via an underground utility pipeline system that runs from Kapolei to Hawaii Kai.

  • Can LNG explode?

  • Natural gas, in its liquid form, cannot burn or explode. When LNG is heated and becomes a gas, the gas is not explosive if it is in an unconfined space. Natural gas is only flammable within a narrow range of concentrations in the air (5% to 15%). Less air does not contain enough oxygen to sustain a flame, while more air dilutes the gas too much for it to ignite. To better understand LNG please view our Introduction to LNG video.

  • Is SNG safe to use in my home?

  • Yes. SNG contains non-toxic, non-corrosive gas. SNG is lighter than air so if it escapes into the atmosphere, it dissipates rapidly. When mixed with the proper amount of air and ignited, SNG burns with a clean, blue flame.

    It is one of the cleanest burning fuels, producing primarily heat, carbon dioxide and water vapor. SNG also has a narrow combustion limit. This helps ensure predictable, safe use. Natural gas will only ignite when there is an air-and-gas mixture of between 5 and 15 percent natural gas. Any mixture containing less than 5 percent or greater than 15 percent natural gas will not ignite.

  • Who uses propane?

  • Propane is a trusted and reliable energy source that is used by thousands of Hawaii families and businesses. It fulfills energy needs by burning cleanly and efficiently, giving consumers more value for their energy dollar. People use propane in or outside their homes for furnaces, water heaters, air conditioners, grills and appliances; on farms; for industrial uses such as forklifts and fleet vehicles; and in millions of commercial establishments, including restaurants and hotels that depend on propane for heating, cooking and other uses.

  • How does LNG compared to SNG in terms of cost?

  • LNG is less expensive than the naphtha currently use to manufacture synthetic natural gas. For this reason, LNG can provide cost-savings for everyone. Using LNG helps us diversify our fuel supply for reliability while providing a cleaner and cheaper fuel.

    Unlike solar, natural gas does not have a high upfront cost for consumers. Everyone can benefit from cleaner, cheaper, reliable energy without having to face a steep financial barrier.

  • Why is Hawaii Gas pursuing the use of LNG in Hawai'i?

  • We are pursuing the use of LNG in Hawaii to use as a form of emergency backup energy to ensure reliable service to our customers. We believe LNG is a viable option to reduce our dependency on foreign oil and has other possible applications that will benefit our state. Studies indicate Hawaii can realize around $500 million by utilizing LNG.

  • What are the benefits of LNG?

  • Our studies have shown that LNG provides a direct benefit to our existing and future customers by lowering the cost of utility gas on Oahu. Since vaporized LNG is similar in properties to our SNG, we can create a cost-effective blend of synthetic and clean burning natural gas while continuing to reduce our carbon footprint.

  • How is propane stored?

  • Propane is stored in tanks, which should be kept outside. Never store propane tanks inside or in an enclosed area. If the tanks were to leak, it could pose a hazard. Also, propane tanks should only be filled to around 80% capacity to allow for propane expansion during periods of extreme heat.

  • Is propane cheaper than electricity?

  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy, it could cost up to twice as much to operate your range, water heater, dryer or furnace with electricity than with propane gas.

    On a pure fuel cost basis, propane can be up to 35 percent cheaper than electricity.

  • What would happen if LNG were to spill?

  • When exposed to air, LNG quickly vaporizes back to its gaseous state and, because it is lighter than air, it will rise under normal atmospheric conditions and be dispersed by the wind, leaving no residue.

  • How is SNG made?

  • To get a better idea of our SNG manufacturing process, please view our How SNG is Made and Distributed section.

  • Can LNG be used for transportation?

  • In Los Angeles: 2,200 buses were converted to compressed natural gas (CNG) reducing the city’s emissions and operating costs. Natural gas can definitely be as a fleet transportation fuel for buses, garbage trucks, and vehicles that move containers around in harbors. Once you have natural gas in a pipeline, it's a matter of building a filling station and a CNG tank. There's not a lot of additional technology needed to do that. Filling stations are built across the mainland today.

  • Is SNG cheaper than electricity?

  • Yes, customers using appliances running off SNG pay less than using electric appliances for the same task.
    In fact, on a pure fuel cost basis, SNG is 42% less expensive than electricity.

  • How does natural gas affect Hawaii’s clean energy goals?

  • There are vast reserves of natural gas that can be brought to Hawaii economically. In fact, the Energy Information Administration projects over 100 years of natural gas supply are under the United States alone. Natural gas can lower the cost of energy, reduce our carbon footprint and accelerate the use of renewable energy in Hawaii. The economic, energy security, and environmental benefits to Hawaii that natural gas provides are too great to ignore as we transition to a cleaner energy future.

    Furthermore, in terms of electrical generation, the efficient turbines used to generate electricity from natural gas have the ability to cycle up and down to meet the fluctuating power demands from intermittent renewable energy. When the sun stops shinning or the wind stops blowing, natural gas-fired power plants can quickly dispatch electricity without interrupting service to customers. Generating power from a clean, EPA compliant, lower cost fuel like natural gas to meet these fluctuations means we can adopt more intermittent renewable energy and lower our carbon footprint.

  • Is propane safe to use in my home?

  • Propane is a safe fuel to use in your home and business. Propane has a narrow range of flammability and cannot be ingested like gasoline or alcohol fuels because it is released as a vapor from a pressured container. In addition, our certified gas appliance service technicians ensure that homeowners understand how to properly maintain their propane appliances and enjoy a healthy, safe environment.

  • Will I notice a difference in my gas service with LNG?

  • No. You will not notice any difference in your gas service. And, you will not need any additional fixtures or equipment.

  • What is LNG?

  • LNG is liquefied natural gas, which is natural gas that has been converted to liquid form. Natural gas is made mostly of methane (CH4), the simplest hydrocarbon compound. Natural gas changes to a liquid state at about minus 259 degrees Fahrenheit (-259°F) the same way water turns to a liquid when cooled below 212 degrees Fahrenheit (212°F). LNG takes up 1/600th the physical space required when in gaseous form. Thus, LNG provides an economical way to ship natural gas from one location to another. LNG is odorless, colorless, non-corrosive, and non-toxic.

  • Why is my propane regulator covered in frost?

  • Liquid propane is stored under pressure and when it expands into vapor form it cools the regulator to a temperature of negative 44 degrees Fahrenheit. When the cold metal contacts the water vapor in the air, frost forms. This is similar to when you open your freezer and you see a mist coming out.

  • How is LNG Stored?

  • LNG is typically stored at atmospheric pressure in double-walled vacuum insulated tanks. From storage, LNG is converted back into gas (vaporization) and fed into a natural gas pipeline system. For decades, LNG has been transported by truck to satellite storage sites for various applications.

    Permanent LNG storage tanks have a dike or impounding wall around the tank that is capable of containing the entire volume of the tank, in the unlikely event of a spill. This would prevent any LNG from flowing off the site.

  • Is LNG cost effective?

  • Yes. Using LNG from North American has the potential to lower the cost of energy for our state by 30-50%. Studies conducted by the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Hawaii Gas, and HECO all indicate Hawaii can save around $500 million a year with LNG.

  • Where will LNG come from?

  • In the short term LNG will be purchased from North America. Once demand becomes large enough, Hawaii can import larger amounts of LNG via tanker from various sources. Receiving LNG in this fashion will enable the state to take advantage of economies of scale, but will also require temporary and permanent infrastructure to offload, store and distribute LNG/Natural Gas.

  • Can LNG replace SNG and propane?

  • LNG can replace SNG and requires equipment modification for propane appliances. LNG is similar in properties to SNG in that they are both predominantly made up of methane (CH4). Any home or business located near the Hawaii Gas’ Honolulu Pipeline Utility System can use cost-effective, clean burning LNG when vaporized to cook, heat, and dry.

  • How does SNG differ from LNG?

  • SNG is methane produced by converting naphtha, a by-product of oil refining, into methane. This process occurs at Hawaii Gas’ SNG Pant in Campbell Industrial Park.

    While similar in properties, LNG is natural gas that has been converted to liquid form. Unlike SNG, natural gas we use comes from naturally occurring natural gas wells in North America.