Letters: Spring 2017

Spring 2017
A version of this article appears in the Spring 2017 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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The American Public Gas Association (APGA) appreciates this opportunity to respond to the editorial titled “Natural Gas Is Becoming Less Attractive” (Winter ’16, p. 2). APGA represents the interests of over 730 not-for-profit community and municipally-owned public natural gas systems across the country. Our members are focused on operating and maintaining safe natural gas distribution systems that do not leak methane and that provide energy consumers access to affordable, reliable, efficient and domestic natural gas.

The premise of the editorial is that natural gas appliances will not have a role in our energy future. APGA has the opposite view. We believe that the direct-use of natural gas—meaning the use of natural gas to heat your home, cook your food, and heat your water—is playing an important role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today and will continue to do so as the energy of our future. This is because natural gas is abundant, affordable, and extremely efficient.

The direct-use of natural gas is extremely efficient. On a full fuel-cycle basis (which measures energy from the point of extraction to the point of usage), natural gas is 92% efficient—it reaches your home directly at almost more than three times the efficiency of non-gas energy. In contrast, converting natural gas (or other primary energy sources) into electricity results in the loss of 68% of its usable energy and releases greater emissions than those that occur through the direct-use of natural gas. That is why we believe energy and environmentally conscious consumers should choose natural gas appliances.

All fuels that we combust for energy produce GHG emissions, but an April 2016 Environmental Protection Agency study found that methane emissions from natural gas industries account for only 2.6% of total U.S. GHG emissions. More important, methane emissions per unit of gas produced have been declining continuously since 1990 (despite tremendous growth in production), and the natural gas industry continues to work towards improvements in reducing emissions. In fact, the average natural gas home currently emits 46% less carbon than its non-gas counterpart. Additionally, when a consumer replaces a non-gas water heater with a natural gas tankless water heater, approximately 3,000 pounds of carbon dioxide are prevented from entering the atmosphere every year.

As stated in the editorial, the price of natural gas has made it more attractive to consumers. APGA believes that the affordability of natural gas is a dramatic benefit to consumers, who are anxious and confused about climate change—not their moderating natural gas bills. APGA supports reasonable steps to mitigate GHG emissions, but the “latest research” cited by the editorial about methane leakage during extraction, transmission, and storage of natural gas is far from a widely held view at this time. The amount of research into methane leakage underway suggests that ringing the alarm bell is not the sound position for your publication to take at this time. Instead, you should consider exploring the consumer and environmental benefits of using natural gas for home heating (both space heating and water heating), cooking and clothes drying rather than electricity.

Dave Schryver
Executive Vice President
American Public Gas Association

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