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Some describe natural gas generation as the “Swiss army knife” of generation technologies, and gas’s current abundance and low price have driven calls for large-scale investments in gas infrastructure. Yet while a Swiss army knife is a versatile tool, it would not be our first choice if we had a more well-equipped toolbox. As the electric system moves toward a decarbonized future, it needs to be equipped with a full set of least-cost, least-risk tools. In this toolbox, gas should be used as a strategic resource to complement lower-carbon options—such as energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, and large-scale renewable resources—not eclipse them. A headlong rush to gas expansion could leave many assets stranded, a costly outcome that could delay the transition to cleaner power.

In a webinar held on July 9th, Dr. Carl Linvill outlined the key policies needed for a “smart gas” approach. The webinar draws from a forthcoming article, Smart Gas Investment for a Risk-Aware Transition, which examines gas’s optimal role in a risk-aware power sector transition.