Stop Playing Games With America’s Energy Future

Stop Playing Games With America’s Energy Future
(AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
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Monopoly is much more than a fun, but mostly infuriating and never-ending family game night activity – it’s part of this nation’s economic history, and if we’re not careful, part of our future.

Right now, Americans are at risk of allowing an energy monopoly to form – total forced electrification as a result of recent policies banning the use of natural gas in homes and businesses.

While local governments are rightly focused on how they can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, these types of policies are short-sighted solutions to long-term challenges. Natural gas is a critical component of a sustainable energy future; rushing towards total and forced electrification will only increase consumer costs, threaten competition and restrict consumer choice.

Natural gas bans leading to forced electrification have become the panacea, all the while disregarding the fact that homes powered by natural gas are responsible for about one-third fewer greenhouse gas emissions than comparable all-electric homes. This perceived “solution” of forced electrification is an untested and unsustainable policy, whereby the country’s entire energy supply would be dependent solely on the electric grid. 

The problems with forced electrification and natural gas bans are numerous and will lead to significant challenges for consumers, business and communities. 

This new energy monopoly will force homeowners and businesses to forgo their preferred energy source and settle for costlier, less reliable electricity. According to the Energy Solutions Center, nearly 70 percent of consumers prefer natural gas home heating, water heating and cooking. In an all-electric system, existing infrastructure and appliances will also become obsolete, and consumers, at all socio-economic levels, will bear the burden. Restricting energy choices and forcing electrification is anything but a minor lifestyle adjustment.

Electrification would also increase the average residential household energy-related costs by an estimated $750 to $910 per year. After harming consumers’ wallets, this ill-fated policy would increase total economy-wide energy-related costs by an estimated $590 billion to $1.2 trillion – and that’s just for residential electrification. In this version of Monopoly, consumers unfortunately don’t have the option of dipping into the ‘Community Chest’ for relief when the bills stack up.

Forced electrification places families and communities in a position of depending on a less reliable energy source. When storms hit, families are at risk of losing access to hot water, heat and the ability to cook. Our most vulnerable populations, like seniors and care facilities, are put in jeopardy, as well as first responders and emergency services who don’t get a break just because the power goes out. Landing on ‘Chance’ might have a big pay-off on the board, but we shouldn’t be gambling with our neighbors and loved ones.

In the haste to electrify, efficiency often gets lost in the conversation. Whereas direct use of natural gas in homes and businesses is 92 percent efficient, electricity generated by natural gas only has an average source-to-site efficiency of 32 percent. While supporters laud the benefits of electrification, let’s not forget that natural gas is three times more efficient for homes and communities than grid-delivered electricity.

Despite promises that electrification will cut costs, reduce emissions and create reliable energy production, it simply isn’t the case. Rather than roll the dice with electrification, we should focus on establishing a diversified energy future with sustainable options – like natural gas.

We’d all like to pass ‘Go’ and collect $200. Unfortunately, Monopoly money doesn’t hold much stock in the real world – and neither does imposing a short-sighted electric monopoly on the nation’s energy system. Instead of allowing electrification to dictate our future and our individual energy decisions, we should prioritize a balanced solution that includes natural gas alongside alternative energy sources and empower consumers to make the best decisions for their homes and businesses.

Samuel Davis Jr., Chairman of the APGA Board of Directors; General Manager, CEO and Registered Agent, Lake Apopka Natural Gas District (Winter Garden, FL)

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