Energy Exchange

4 opportunities for gas utilities to accelerate the energy transition today

A troubling story recently emerged about a group of gas utilities whose mission is to fight electrification. While the leaked materials alone don’t explain the full extent of the group’s efforts, it was unsettling to see baseless, fear-driven tactics such as “take advantage of power outage fear,” to make people wary of electrification. Instead of blocking progress to safe, affordable, clean energy, gas utilities concerned with the future should be taking steps today to accelerate the energy transition.

Several analyses make clear that electrification of commercial and residential buildings will play a predominant role in achieving state climate goals. Take New Jersey, for example, where residential and commercial buildings account for the second largest share of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. According to modeling done by the state, in order to achieve its climate goals of 80% emission reductions by 2050, residential and commercial sector emissions must be reduced by 89%.

To achieve this level of emission reductions, New Jersey has found that “policies requiring net-zero emissions for new construction must be paired with aggressive requirements for electrification of older residential and commercial buildings as soon as practicable.” In other words, the last thing we should be doing is fighting efforts to electrify.

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Also posted in Gas to Clean, Methane, Natural Gas, New Jersey / Comments are closed

New innovative tool empowers utilities to reduce emissions in investment planning

By Erin Murphy and Christie Hicks

As the United States moves toward decarbonization, cities and states must use all means available to reduce climate pollution, and natural gas utilities should be at the forefront of this rapid energy transition. Gas utilities are the subject of increasing scrutiny because plans to expand and fortify their infrastructure could lock in greenhouse gas emissions and costs for decades. As the industry reckons with its role in a decarbonized future, advocates, utilities and regulators alike are calling for a carefully-managed transition that avoids costly long-term investments. New York has been at the forefront of this effort, seeking to balance ambitious climate goals with outdated natural gas investment planning processes.

To help utility planners align business decisions with environmental targets, EDF engaged MJ Bradley and Associates to develop the Gas Company Climate Planning Tool, an innovative new framework for New York and other states.

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Also posted in Gas to Clean, General, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

What does it really mean for a gas utility to go net-zero?

SoCalGas – the nation’s largest gas utility recently pledged to go net-zero on their greenhouse gas emissions. At face value, this is a great move, but what does this really mean for a gas-only company that has had some major climate missteps in the past? And what are the implications for current and future SoCalGas customers?

Today, customers use natural gas for a variety of purposes — to warm our homes, to take hot showers, to cook hot meals. But as part of the transition to a cleaner energy economy, more and more customers are shifting to electric appliances to perform those same functions. That shift means that they will be leaving the gas system to a decarbonized electric grid.

That’s great news for the climate, but it’s less great news if you’re a gas-only company or if you’re one of the few gas customers left on the system, especially if you are a large industrial customer and there is not an electric alternative available for your business process.

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Also posted in California, Gas to Clean, Natural Gas, New Jersey / Comments are closed

What our climate goals mean for natural gas, and what states should do about it

The transition to a low-carbon economy will have a big impact on the way we think about natural gas: how we produce, use and transport it. One area where this challenge is particularly acute is the state regulatory frameworks governing gas utilities across the country, and in particular, how those rules line up against the climate goals now being set by a growing number of states.

States that don’t re-envision the way their gas utility systems run will be challenged to meet their climate targets. To help states avoid that fate, EDF has developed a new guide suggesting ways that state regulators can navigate this complex challenge.

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Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Colorado, Gas to Clean, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

The connection between jobs and addressing orphan oil and gas wells

All across the country right now, there are tens of thousands of officially documented “orphan” oil and gas wells creating environmental hazards for their communities. These are wells that the oil and gas industry walked away from because they became uneconomic over time. Rather than properly sealing them, they left state and federal taxpayers holding the bag. These wells can be big sources of air, water and climate pollution if left unaddressed.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of thousands and perhaps millions more of these inactive, unplugged wells that need to be addressed. This is not to mention the potential for adding hundreds of thousands of currently active wells to the orphan well inventory as oil and gas producers struggle to survive the downturn in petroleum prices.

Luckily, efforts are underway in Congress and within the presidential transition plan to address these orphan wells. In his economic plan, President-elect Joe Biden laid out his vision for a cleaner and healthier future.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania, Texas / Comments are closed

New York regulators must act on Con Edison’s contract with Mountain Valley Pipeline

The CEO of New York gas utility Con Edison recently made the bold statement that natural gas is “no longer…part of the longer-term view” in the transition to a clean energy economy, and that he does not expect the company to make additional investments in natural gas pipelines. Many of the company’s actions — from its clean energy commitment, to its framework for pursuing non-pipe alternatives — place it on a path toward meeting that vision. But Con Ed’s investment and contract with Mountain Valley Pipeline call into question that bold statement and demand further scrutiny from the New York Public Service Commission.

In 2016, Con Ed signed a 20-year contract for service on Mountain Valley Pipeline, a planned 300-mile pipeline in West Virginia and Virginia. Mountain Valley would connect with other pipelines on the East Coast to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale for ultimate delivery to the New York region. Since Con Ed entered the contract, the pipeline has been plagued by environmental and economic risks and significant legal challenges, and it is still not in service.

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Also posted in Natural Gas / Comments are closed