Energy regulators meeting in Washington are facing off on cities that are banning the use of natural gas for cooking or heating in residences. “Depending on how widespread it becomes, the wave of bans, as well as other incentives for building electrification, could have broad implications for the residential fuel mix and the future of gas distribution infrastructure and demand,” said one report. (Source)

Cities make that step by saying that any new residence or building, or remodel of an old residence or building, must use just electricity and no gas.

Why? Cities are saying because natural gas is a fossil fuel, banning it helps eliminate one impact on the environment. Gas is not a huge part of emissions. The same report said that in California, natural gas makes up seven percent of emissions. Transportation is the big culprit. (And note: Natural gas is not the same as gasoline.)

Gas furnace

Another issue is consumer cost. Natural gas is inexpensive now compared to the past. If consumers have to go to electric for cooking, for instance, costs can increase if they use an electric stove at the same time as higher peak-demand costs for power. That would not be the case with gas.

There is industry concern about this, as you may expect. “Partly at stake for the natural gas sector is maintaining its share in the residential-commercial market. The res-comm sector makes up about 26% of US gas demand.” (Source)

American Gas Assn report

“Emissions from direct-use of fossil fuels that would be displaced by residential electrification are already small relative to total GHG [greenhouse gas] emissions. In 2016, natural gas use in the residential sector contributed less than 4 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions, and total direct fuel consumption by the residential sector contributed less than 5 percent of total U.S. GHG emissions,” said an American Gas Association report.

Another question is about consumer choice – whether a homeowner wants an electric or gas stove or heating system.

This is an issue that will migrate from the west coast to the east. Stay tuned.

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Read on: ECC wrote about this issue first in September 2019.