Three Points on Natural Gas and the American Jobs Plan
At long last, welcome to Infrastructure Week! Earlier this year President Biden released his American Jobs Plan—a framework for investing in America’s infrastructure from roads and bridges to broadband internet. Now seems like as good a time as any to ask: what does the American Jobs Plan mean for the 180 million Americans who rely on natural gas in their homes?
Here are three points on how the American Jobs Plan could impact the natural gas industry.
Building Retrofits and Energy Efficiency
The Biden plan calls to produce, preserve and retrofit more than a million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy efficient and electrified housing units through targeted tax credits, formula funding, grants and project-based rental assistance. The American Jobs Plan also calls for investments in building and upgrading modern, resilient and energy-efficient homes and buildings, including our nation’s schools, early learning facilities, veterans’ hospitals and other federal buildings, many of which rely on natural gas.
Our industry actually already does this. Natural gas utilities invest $3.9 million per day in efficiency programs. That amounted to $1.47 billion invested in energy efficiency in 2018 alone. These investments help customers install tighter-fitting windows and doors and better insulation while making it easier for them to purchase more efficient natural gas appliances. With these significant investments, natural gas utilities helped their customers offset over 13.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions from 2012 to 2018 – the equivalent of removing 2.9 million cars off the road for a year. Natural gas utilities have only become more committed to making their operations more efficient since 2018 and these investments are likely to grow no matter what happens to the Biden plan.
The American Jobs Plan makes a number of commitments to investing in clean energy without specifying what qualifies as “clean.” While the definition set out by the President remains uncertain for now, we can be certain that natural gas and the infrastructure that delivers it should be included.
Natural gas will be the foundation of our clean energy future. The investments that the industry made to modernize natural gas infrastructure between 1990 and 2018 helped our industry reduce its emissions by 73% during that period. These investments have continued since then and continue today, meaning the natural gas industry is reducing emissions even as we speak. Additionally, emerging natural gas technologies are also making substantial and cost-effective contributions to achieving the President’s clean energy goals, particularly through the development of high-efficiency natural gas end-use applications and renewable energy sources such as hydrogen and renewable natural gas.
America’s natural gas utilities will continue to lower emissions from our operations, help customers reduce their carbon footprint and enable other industries to capture their methane emissions to be delivered as useful energy all while preserving the stability of our essential energy systems.
Whether you recognize them or not, you probably see natural gas vehicles in your everyday life. On the highway today many trucks are fueled by natural gas. These trucks are 90% cleaner than the EPA’s current NOx standard and emit up to 21% fewer greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than comparable gas and diesel vehicles, according to Natural Gas Vehicles for America.
Engines that run on natural gas can also be found in buses, waste disposal trucks and delivery vehicles. Amazon recently announced an order to add hundreds of trucks to their fleet that will be fueled by compressed natural gas.
The Biden plan includes a number of proposals for making vehicles cleaner in the U.S., but it should recognize that natural gas has another important role to play in achieving this goal as well.
Energy will continue to be a large focus for this administration and our industry is ready and willing to work to continue providing affordable, reliable and efficient natural gas to all Americans. As this Plan makes its way through the respective legislative bodies, we look forward to discussing how natural gas utilities can help meet future emissions targets through smart innovation, advanced technologies and new and modernized infrastructure.