THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 20

feature

Electrify, Electrify
By John P. Gregg

T

his mantra of an environmental movement that would
curtail the direct-use of natural gas for heating buildings
and hot water is an ironic twist on Henry David Thoreau
sitting on Walden pond: "Simplify, simplify," he wrote.
That refrain-helpful today in a technology-saturated
life-was written in reaction to American industrialization.

The call to electrify all appliances-and end the direct-use of natural gas-comes
in reaction to climate change. It is part of a strategy to lower greenhouse gas (GHG)
emissions under the 2015 Paris Agreement. The principle is simple enough. If the
world converts its modes of transportation and heating to electricity, and electricity
is provided eventually without fossil fuels, the environment will be cleaner and
sustainable. All citizens of the world favor a cleaner and sustainable planet.
Unfortunately, the designated
strategy that leads to that utopian
outcome assumes technological change
only imaginable now, and it threatens to
raise energy costs of the world's poorest
inhabitants. In particular, the electrify
movement threatens the future use
of natural gas to heat homes and thus
could strand billions in infrastructure in
the U.S., including distribution systems
owned by local governments.
The strategy to deeply decarbonize
the U.S. economy by 2050 is not widely
known outside of universities and
environmental communities, but its
impact has grown and become more
visible following the Paris Agreement.
The "World Energy Outlook 2016
Executive Summary" published by
the International Energy Agency in
November 2016 advocated increasing
the pace of decarbonization: "a strong

push for greater electrification and
efficiency across all end-uses."
Keith Davis of the National Rural
Electric Cooperative Association
terms this "Environmentally Beneficial
Electrification." And that trade group
has embraced the idea that "emissions
efficiency" is as or more important than
"energy efficiency." In 2017, a group
called Oil Change International struck
out against natural gas in "Gas Pipeline
Climate Methodology: Calculating
Greenhouse Gas Emissions for Natural
Gas Infrastructure." It claimed that
GHG emissions per unit of electricity
produced from a gas plant are greater
than that of a coal plant.
Roots of the strategy date to the
2005 Executive Order in California that
established the target of reducing
GHG by 80 percent by 2050 (below
1990 levels) in the Golden State. That

20 THE SOURCE | THE VOICE AND CHOICE OF PUBLIC GAS

prompted work by scientists from
the U.S. Department of Energy's
(DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory and the San Franciscobased energy consulting firm Energy
and Environmental Economics (E3).
They concluded that energy efficiency
and decarbonized energy supply alone
would not be enough. A November
2011 study showed a pathway to
meet the 80 percent goal only if it
included electrification of California's
cars, space and water heaters, and
industrial processes that consume
fuel and natural gas. An additional 16
percent net reduction in GHG would be
achieved by raising from 15 percent to
55 percent the electrification of those
transportation and end-use segments
by 2050. In 2013, the Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory further pronounced
that this required "effective policies to
decarbonize building and
industry heating."
In November 2016, the White
House published the "United States
Mid-Century Strategy for Deep
Decarbonization" that provided the most
complete statement of the proposition
to date. To achieve the ambitious Paris
Agreement goal of more than an 80
percent reduction in GHG after 2050
(compared to 2005 levels), nearly all fossil
fuel energy production in the U.S. would
need to be replaced by renewables,
nuclear, and fossil fuels with carbon
capture technologies. A component of
this strategy is to minimize or eliminate
space heating by natural gas.
Residential and commercial buildings
are viewed as producing one-third of
CO2 emissions from U.S. energy, but
less than 30 percent of that comes from
natural gas space and water heating.
Yet-and even considering the dramatic
impact of energy efficiency-the further



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of THE SOURCE - Summer 2017

First Person
APGA Events
Q&A: Representative Walden
A Conversation with an APGA Member
Look Out Your Window
Winning Insight into Gas Losses
Electrify, Electrify
Furnace Rule Update
Legislative Outlook
The Pipeline
Marketing Matters
At Last
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THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - cover1
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THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 4
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 5
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 6
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 7
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 8
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - First Person
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - APGA Events
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 11
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Q&A: Representative Walden
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - A Conversation with an APGA Member
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 14
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 15
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Look Out Your Window
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 17
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Winning Insight into Gas Losses
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 19
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Electrify, Electrify
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 21
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Furnace Rule Update
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Legislative Outlook
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 24
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 25
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - The Pipeline
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - Marketing Matters
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 28
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - At Last
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - 30
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - cover3
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - cover4
THE SOURCE - Summer 2017 - outsert1
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