Last year we discussed the effort by a growing number of communities across the U.S. to ban natural gas hookups for cooking and heating to new homes and businesses. Progressive communities in California, Washington state, Maryland, and Massachusetts all implemented or had laid the groundwork for distributive natural gas bans.
In America’s most populous state, the California Energy Commission is laying the groundwork to institute what would be the nation’s first statewide ban on new natural gas installations.
Last March, we knew that it would only be a matter of time before these local efforts coalesced into a statewide effort to thwart the use of natural gas as an affordable and reliable source of energy. California, true to form, didn’t let us down.
The debate on banning natural gas as a heating fuel at the residential/commercial level gets to the heart of the origins of Energy Fairness’s formation more than a decade ago. Our goal is to have an honest conversation with policymakers and consumers about what it takes to maintain an affordable and reliable supply of energy.
The honest conversation that needs to occur In California is about the high cost of enacting aggressive proposals like a distributive natural gas ban. The state isn’t calling for retrofitting existing homes and businesses with new electric-based systems like some localities. But would it be too much of a stretch to think that the California Energy Commission already has a similar proposal in the works?
For a lot of consumers, that would be extremely expensive. According to some estimates, the cost of converting from a natural gas-based heating system to high-efficient electric system for the average consumer could range from $6,000 to $10,000.
As we’ve said before, the prohibitions on natural gas at the local/distribution level are the proverbial “camel’s nose under the tent.” Some have the long-term goal of ultimately banning natural gas as a fuel for electric power generation at the wholesale level. Fortunately, states like Arizona have recognized this threat and put the brakes on localities adopting these near-sighted proposals.
Energy Fairness has addressed the changing U.S. energy portfolio and supported efforts to enhance the affordability and reliability of solar, wind, and other renewables through advances in battery storage and by touting a renaissance in pumped-hydropower storage.
It’s essential to look to the future with a foothold in the present. The present tells us that natural gas is, and will continue to be, an affordable and reliable energy source for heating and electric power generation. And that is why we can only perceive California’s pending attack on natural gas as a heating fuel as being nothing but a prelude to a larger wide-scale attack on natural gas as a source of electricity in the future.