LOS ANGELES, Dec. 11, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) today announced that more than 110 local governments across Southern California, representing approximately 8 million people, have passed resolutions in support of affordable and balanced strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The resolutions urge policymakers to safeguard consumers' ability to choose natural gas, propane, or electric appliances for their homes and businesses. They were passed in response to concerns that state agencies are being called upon to take steps to prohibit the use of affordable natural gas in buildings.
"Advances in renewable natural gas and hydrogen technologies mean that we can meet our climate goals without sacrificing the reliability and resilience of our energy systems and without forcing people to give up their gas stoves, board up their fireplaces and take on costly renovations," said Sharon Tomkins, SoCalGas vice president of strategy and engagement and chief environmental officer. "To meet its ambitious environmental goals, California needs clean gas working together with clean electricity, and most importantly we cannot lose sight of affordability."
A growing number of experts, including researchers at Stanford University, University of California, Irvine, and Lawrence Livermore Labs, have raised concerns that the electrification of buildings, alone, could undercut the state's environmental goals, while making basic utility services less reliable and more expensive.
"Renewable gases can increase people's use of renewable energy and combat climate change—and we can't become carbon neutral without them," said Dr. Jack Brouwer, Director of the National Fuel Cell Research Center at University of California, Irvine. "These renewable gases are easily stored in the pipelines and also provide a complementary way to deliver renewable energy that will be more reliable and resilient than using the electric grid alone."
The Energy Futures Initiative (EFI), a research center founded by former US Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, reached similar conclusions. In a 2019 report on the pathways for achieving deep decarbonization in California, EFI found that meeting California's environmental goals will require a range of clean energy pathways, including clean fuels like renewable natural gas (RNG), hydrogen and biofuels.
"Once we realized what was at stake—the lack of affordable energy options, the loss of local control, and the negative impacts to businesses and residents who rely on natural gas—we knew we had to act. When it comes to energy, our residents deserve choice," said La Habra City Councilman Tim Shaw.
"The cost of living in Southern California is already too expensive for most of the families I represent," said South Gate Mayor Belen Bernal. "Switching to electricity-only would mean higher utility bills that people just can't afford. Maintaining a balanced approach is important for my community."
"The simple process of converting our organic wastes, yard trimmings, and food waste into a recycled natural gas can significantly reduce our overall carbon emissions, and yet, the energy discussion is often dominated by the idea of total electrification," said Temecula Councilmember Matt Rahn. "As we plan for California's energy future, we must realize that electrification is not the only solution, and certainly not something that everyone can afford."
"Mandating a move to a singular utility model loses sight of the financial burden it will create in many Californians' homes," said Upland City Councilmember Ricky Felix. "It would also be irresponsible to not have different types of utilities available, especially in emergency situations which would put residents at risk."
"People should have the choice of what energy source they use—and many prefer natural gas because it's more affordable," said Port Hueneme Mayor Will Berg. "In addition, to keep energy reliable and affordable it makes sense to not put all your eggs in one basket."
"Most residents use natural gas to heat and cook in their homes, so it makes sense to reduce emissions by replacing natural gas with renewable natural gas," said Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel. "And using RNG offers the opportunity to further develop this new green energy business right here among the dairies in the Central Valley. We should all want to bring new investment to our state and this region."
Today, more than 90 percent of homes in Southern California rely on natural gas for space and water heating or cooking. In surveys, Southern Californians regularly report they prefer natural gas for cooking, and home and water heating by a margin of 4 to 1, citing its affordability.
Last year, a study by Navigant Consulting found that replacing 20 percent of the natural gas California uses today with renewable natural gas could reduce emissions equal to making every building in the state electric-only, but at half the cost.
A separate study published last year by the California Building Industry Association (CBIA) found that replacing natural gas appliances in California homes with electric models could lead to more than $7,200 in upfront costs and an annual increase in household energy costs of more than $850.
A survey of registered voters published by CBIA at the time found that more than two-thirds of Californians oppose regulations that would eliminate natural gas use in homes and businesses. More than 80 percent opposed if eliminating natural gas resulted in higher utility bills.
SoCalGas has committed to replacing 20 percent of the natural gas the company purchases with renewable natural gas by 2030 – as part of a broad, inclusive and integrated plan to help achieve California's ambitious climate goals.
To view a list of the local governments that have passed balanced energy resolutions, click here.
Headquartered in Los Angeles, SoCalGas® is the largest natural gas distribution utility in the United States. SoCalGas delivers affordable, reliable, clean and increasingly renewable natural gas service to 21.8 million customers across 24,000 square miles of Central and Southern California, where more than 90 percent of residents use natural gas for heating, hot water, cooking, drying clothes or other uses. Natural gas delivered through the company's pipelines also plays a key role in providing electricity to Californians— about 45 percent of electric power generated in the state comes from gas-fired power plants.
SoCalGas' vision is to be the cleanest natural gas utility in North America, delivering affordable and increasingly renewable energy to its customers. In support of that vision, SoCalGas is committed to replacing 20 percent of its traditional natural gas supply with renewable natural gas (RNG) by 2030. Renewable natural gas is made from waste created by dairy farms, landfills and wastewater treatment plants. SoCalGas is also committed to investing in its natural gas system infrastructure while keeping bills affordable for our customers. From 2014 through 2018, the company invested nearly $6.5 billion to upgrade and modernize its natural gas system to enhance safety and reliability. SoCalGas is a subsidiary of Sempra Energy (NYSE: SRE), an energy services holding company based in San Diego. For more information visit socalgas.com/newsroom or connect with SoCalGas on Twitter (@SoCalGas), Instagram (@SoCalGas) and Facebook.
SOURCE Southern California Gas Company