The dangers of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ gas ban policies

The following is an article written by Dave Schryver, President and CEO of the American Public Gas Association. This is a counter-article to “Local communities want to lead the fight for clean energy,” an opinion piece by Alejandra Mejia Cunningham, building decarbonization advocate at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Supporters of gas bans routinely overlook flaws in their proposals, including the most important reality: the American electricity grid cannot meet the energy needs of all American households thanks to renewable energies alone – as we saw when blackouts in Texas left millions of people without electricity and, in cases where residents did not have access to natural gas in their homes, without heat.

Cities across the country are pursuing all-electric energy policies that prohibit the direct use of natural gas in the home, forcing consumers to make the costly switch to less efficient all-electric devices. Given Americans’ current dependence on natural gas, the limited availability of renewables, and the fragility of the U.S. electricity grid, the stakes are high when untested policies are imposed on consumers.

The intermittent nature of renewable sources like solar and wind requires another form of energy when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing. Eliminating the direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses would simply shift the use of natural gas from inside the home to supplying an already overloaded power grid through natural gas power plants. – if we are lucky – and in some cases coal – motorized installations.

Short-sighted proposals that force total electrification on Americans fail to recognize the essential role natural gas plays in providing efficient, low-emission energy. Since 1970, gas utilities have added more than 30 million residential customers with virtually no increase in emissions, and the sector continues to reduce its carbon footprint by using existing infrastructure to further increase efficiency through innovations such as renewable natural gas and the use of hydrogen.

Gas ban policy proposals also fail to capitalize on the remarkable efficiency of using natural gas directly in the home. When used directly for cooking, drying clothes, and heating homes and water, natural gas has a source-site efficiency by 92% – which means that almost all of the energy contained in the original gas is used in the appliances. However, when natural gas plants generate electricity for these same devices, the efficiency is only 37%.

As the American electricity grid already has strongly press on natural gas for power generation, electrification policies that increase the number of homes and businesses relying on the grid would only push natural gas “out of sight and out of mind”. direct use inside the house to supply power to power stations. Contrary to the goals of electrification proponents, natural gas bans would increase, rather than decrease, the share of the country’s energy mix coming from gas in its least efficient form – natural gas-fired power plants – thus losing l efficiency of direct residential use and increasing our dependence on a strained electricity grid.

In addition, the bans on the use of natural gas are should increase average annual household energy costs between $ 750 and $ 910, or about 38-46%. Forcing natural gas customers to face the cost of transitioning to a less efficient electricity grid that makes them more vulnerable to blackouts would place a heavy financial burden on American families, and especially those living on low or fixed incomes.

Beyond 150 billion dollars As power outages cost Americans every year, recent weather events in California and Texas have shown us the human cost of unreliable energy sources. While Americans remain dependent on natural gas for heating and cooking, politicians should not ignore the potential of energy policy decisions to leave customers out in the cold.

The US electricity grid cannot support a fully renewable model without natural gas; the choice policymakers face is to use natural gas in its most efficient form – directly in the home – or in the least efficient way, feeding into the electricity grid. To make meaningful progress in meeting important climate goals, we cannot afford to shift the use of natural gas “out of sight and out of mind” by prohibiting the efficient, resilient and affordable direct use of gas. natural gas in the home and forcing consumers to rely on an unpredictable all-electric power grid.

We urge our energy colleagues and members of Congress to join us in working together to foster a fair energy future where renewables and natural gas work together to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. greenhouse, keep energy costs low and ensure energy stability and resilience for years to come. come.

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Lois Mendez

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