No Rush: A Smarter Role for Natural Gas in Clean Power Plan Compliance
As utilities and regulators consider their strategies for complying with greenhouse gas emissions limits under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) forthcoming Clean Power Plan (CPP), natural gas has an important role to play. But a “dash to gas” approach could leave many gas infrastructure assets unusable as soon as 2030. A smarter approach will reduce the risk of stranding these assets by carefully weighing the place of gas on a least-cost, least-risk path. Energy efficiency, renewable energy, and demand response offer lower cost and lower risk options to help states meet their CPP emissions goals. This article explores the risks associated with new natural gas infrastructure and suggests that the gas fleet, rather than undergoing a large-scale build-out in anticipation of a future for which it is not well suited, could instead be optimized to complement cleaner resources. Such an approach will use gas as a genuine “bridge” to a cleaner energy future and aid the wider-scale integration of renewables into the grid.This article appears in the August 2015 issue of EM Magazine, a publication of the Air & Waste Management Association (A&WMA). To obtain copies and reprints, please contact A&WMA directly at 1-412-232-3444.