Opinion: Natural gas should remain a key option in Colorado’s clean-energy mix
‘Forced electrification’ would raise prices, hurt low-income residents
Ty Adams, Gary Arnold, Sara Blackhurst and Rich Meisinger
1:30 AM MST on Jan 25, 2022
Colorado is widely known as a state that is at the forefront of both energy innovation and environmental protection. As we continue the transition to a low-carbon economy, we’re presented with a tremendous opportunity to strengthen that reputation.
At the center of that change are clean and natural energy sources that Colorado is abundantly blessed with.
Thanks to dramatic leaps in technological innovation during the past two decades, natural gas has become an affordable and reliable energy source for Colorado’s families, restaurants, and businesses and is helping the state meet its greenhouse-gas emissions reductions goals.
To maintain this progress, natural gas should remain a key option within Colorado’s clean energy mix. Quite simply, there is not an affordable substitute for natural gas used for cooking or to heat our homes.
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Forced electrification would restrict access to natural gas, a move that will raise energy prices, threaten reliability, and hurt low-income Coloradans.
That’s why today, businesses and organizations around the state are launching Coloradans for Energy Access – a coalition to support the use of affordable, cleaner-burning natural gas in homes and businesses.
This coalition is built to represent the many voices in Colorado who share a vision for our energy future. Access to affordable, reliable energy that helps meet emissions reductions goals is a shared interest among everyone in Colorado, no matter where in the state they live or the industry they work in.
Coloradans for Energy Access is built on three key principles:
The first principle is equity. Today, 30 percent of Coloradans are “energy burdened” – families, particularly minority communities, who spend a high amount of their paycheck on energy utility bills. Making energy even more expensive by cutting off natural gas will only make life more difficult for these Coloradans.
But they wouldn’t be the only ones facing a higher utility bill. Seventy percent of Colorado homes rely on natural gas, which the federal government projects will have a 42 percent lower home heating cost this winter than a home with an electric heat pump. This coalition is working for the Coloradans who depend on affordable energy.
The second principle is innovation. Because of constantly improving technology, the production, transportation, and end of use of natural and renewable gas is becoming cleaner every day. That is how natural gas supports the energy transition to a lower carbon economy.
In recent years, Colorado government leaders have outlined a plan to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 90 percent by 2050. We support these strong goals and thanks to technological innovations, high-efficiency natural gas uses less energy for heating, cooking, clothes drying and other essential tasks. Appliances in the home that use less energy mean lower emissions.
And as we’ve seen around the country, natural gas provides a crucial complement to renewable sources such as wind and solar by providing immediate power when weather conditions aren’t favorable or during extreme weather events.
The third principle is access. Because of Colorado’s strong weather patterns, especially for those outside of the Denver metro area, access to a reliable supply of energy is vital. It’s also crucially important for businesses who need large amounts of power to keep their operations going.
Energy is foundational for a stable home and a strong economy, and access to natural gas will support high standards of living and job creation.
With these principles, Coloradans for Energy Access seeks to engage in productive dialogue with policymakers and stakeholders on the economic and environmental benefits of natural gas.
As Coloradans, we all have the same interests: an affordable and efficient energy system that also supports a healthy environment.
We look forward to engaging state and community leaders to collaborate on our shared goals to achieve a clean environment, while promoting innovation and ensuring equitable access for all.
Ty Adams is CEO of Colorado Association of Realtors; Gary Arnold is business manager of Denver Pipefitters Local 208; Sara Blackhurst is CEO of Action 22; Rich Meisinger is business manager of IBEW Local 111