It has turned out to be a hot summer on the West Coast. In California, we’ve seen 3 million people lose power with rolling blackouts because the state didn’t have enough reliable energy available to fill the void when renewable energy production there fell off a cliff.
My heart goes out to those caught up in the blackouts. It’s a reminder to those of us in the Northwest, that we need to maintain a diverse energy system that uses all sources of energy for optimum reliability.
Natural gas is a critical part of that system. It is the cleanest fossil fuel and provides reliable and affordable energy whenever it’s needed. It is uniquely capable of generating electricity to power your air conditioner when the wind isn’t blowing, or the sun isn’t shining. And if the power is out, natural gas can be used to cook or heat water for your shower or laundry.
Not only does natural gas contribute to a clean energy future by supporting intermittent renewable resources like wind and solar energy, but it is becoming increasingly renewable itself.
Renewable natural gas (RNG) is methane produced when materials like wood, food, and other organic waste decompose. Instead of being released directly into the atmosphere the gas is captured and converted into clean energy source. RNG is being advanced through partnerships with foresters, farmers, and local governments and Northwest utilities are bringing more of it into their energy mix.
For reliability and renewability, natural gas and renewable natural gas are sources of energy that are vital to the future and enjoy broad support. According to a recent poll, more than 70% of Pacific Northwesterners don’t want natural gas to be banned. They understand the need for reliable, affordable energy to address climate change.
We have to work together to achieve a sustainable energy future. Natural gas and renewable natural gas aren’t the only answer, but they are an essential part of the picture. It’s up to all of us to keep the momentum going so that no one has to endure blackouts tomorrow.
By Dan Kirschner, Executive Director of Northwest Gas Association