DOE Blueprint on Building Decarbonization is Unrealistic and Expensive

Washington, D.C. – The United States Department of Energy’s “Decarbonizing the Economy by 2050: A National Blueprint for the Buildings Sector” is not based on sound science or facts and would jeopardize our country’s energy security and environmental progress. The American Gas Association and our industry have consistently supported efforts to improve efficiency and lower emissions, and natural gas has played an essential role in helping our nation achieve its energy and environmental goals. The “blueprint” lays out a plan that would impose higher costs on families and businesses and decrease the reliability of the energy system with little documented environmental benefits.

AGA’s study Net-Zero Emissions Opportunities for Gas Utilities examined the numerous pathways natural gas utilities can take to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. Pathways that utilize natural gas and the vast utility delivery infrastructure offer opportunities to incorporate renewable and low-carbon gases, provide optionality for stakeholders, help minimize customer impacts, maintain high reliability, improve overall energy system resilience, and accelerate emissions reductions.

“Our industry has a proven track record of lowering emissions while continuing to provide safe, affordable and reliable service to our customers,” said AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert. “This DOE report calls for the electrification of 75% of all space heating and 25% of water heating by 2035 on the premise that 100% of our electricity will be from renewable sources a single decade from now. According to the federal government’s National Renewable Energy Lab’s 100% Clean Electricity by 2035 study however, current policies plus accelerated electrification would nearly double the amount of fossil fuels used for power generation. We encourage DOE to recognize the role natural gas and the natural gas delivery system have had in driving down emission, underscoring it as one of the most powerful decarbonization tools available today.”

Today, the average natural gas household has emissions 18% lower than its average all-electric equivalent, while Energy Star natural gas homes can have emissions 16% lower than homes with an Energy Star electric heat pump. The average natural gas home also saves $1,132 per year and residential emissions continue to decline by 1.3% per year. The pace of emissions reductions is poised to accelerate as natural gas utilities continue to improve the efficiency of their systems and roll out advanced technologies like renewable natural gas and low-emissions hydrogen.

AGA’s Implications of Policy Driven Residential Electrification study found that policy-driven electrification would increase the average residential household-energy related costs and would require significant investments in electricity infrastructure. According to the study, total costs would increase between $590 billion to $1.2 trillion depending on the power generation scenario, or $15,830 to $21,140 per household on average over the lifetime of the heating equipment.

“Natural gas provides 40% of all electricity in our country and is forecast to continue to increase as the most cost-effective option to meet increasing demand without compromising reliability. The choice available to us isn’t how to convert our nation’s energy system away from natural gas but how the customers can continue to benefit from the county’s abundance of affordable natural gas and ensure reliability and resiliency. Policies based on projections that ignore this reality would raise customer bills, make the energy system significantly less reliable, and may not even lower emissions,” Harbert concluded. The natural gas delivery system delivers three times as much energy on the coldest day of the year as the electrical grid does on the hottest day and represents an invaluable avenue for energy system decarbonization. Read AGA’s full net-zero emissions opportunities study here.