Part Two: Energy Efficiency Continues to be a Priority for Gas Utilities
The following is the second part of an eight-part series to dive deeper into the eight key takeaways from the Net-Zero Emissions Opportunities for Gas Utilities report. If you are interested in the full report, you can learn more at https://www.aga.org/netzero.
In February 2022, the American Gas Association (AGA) released a bold vision for the future that details how America’s natural gas, natural gas utilities and delivery infrastructure are essential to meeting our nation’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. Building on the industry’s ambitious Climate Change Position Statement from January 2020, Net-Zero Emissions Opportunities for Gas Utilities presents a national-level approach that leverages the unique advantages of gas technologies and distribution infrastructure.
Several modeled pathways are analyzed to underscore the range of scenarios and technology opportunities available as the nation, regions, states and communities develop and implement emissions reductions plans. The study details eight key findings including:
The U.S. can achieve significant emissions reductions by accelerating the use of tools available today, including high-efficiency natural gas applications, renewable gases, methane reduction technologies and enhanced energy efficiency initiatives.
Achieving net-zero emissions targets with a variety of technologies and approaches will require further evaluation of these opportunities. The ability to safety, affordability, reliability, resilience and feasibility will be crucial to developing and implementing decarbonization strategies.
Energy efficiency is one of the many strategies in the pathways explored by the study to reduce emissions. By expanding efficiency programs, demand-side management programs and synthesizing with regulatory structures, utilities may be able to drive deep emissions reductions through the promotion of gas heat pump technology, building shell retrofits, more stringent fuel-neutral building energy codes and considerable volumes of renewable and low carbon gases.
The Natural Gas Efficiency Programs Report for the 2019 program year presents annual data collected from AGA members and the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE) on natural gas ratepayer-funded efficiency and conservation programs to provide insights into industry trends.
These resources illustrate natural gas utilities’ investments in efficiency programs and how they work with their customers to help increase cost savings while reducing emissions. The utility energy efficiency data presented in this report captures industry budgets, expenditures and impacts over time to enable the assessment of overall industry trends. The analysis looks retrospectively at the status of the natural gas efficiency market in 2019, including expenditures and savings impacts. The analysis also presents a snapshot of budgets for 2020.
In 2019, natural gas utilities funded 127 natural gas efficiency programs, including 120 in 42 states and six in Canada. The utility efficiency program investments continue to grow with $1.7 billion spent in 2019.
These significant investments by natural gas utilities helped their customers save more than 297 trillion Btus of energy and have offset more than 15.7 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2012 to 2019. That’s equal to removing 3.3 million cars off the road.
Gas utility efficiency programs present a nationwide approach that leverage the unique advantages of gas technologies and distribution infrastructure, which can create a lower baseline of demand and amplify additional decarbonization methods such as RNG, hydrogen and negative emissions technologies throughout the value chain to achieve net-zero emissions.