A Letter from Texans for Natural Gas on the City of Dallas Climate Action Plan
Wed, May 06, 2020
Dear Members of the Environment & Sustainability Committee,
On behalf of the nearly 800 members of Texans for Natural Gas who live and work in Dallas, we are writing to express our concern about the City of Dallas’ Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP), on which the Committee held a meeting today.
Currently, the draft plan fails to acknowledge the important role that natural gas plays in mitigating emissions in Texas and nationwide. Not only does the draft plan effectively exclude natural gas as a viable option for power generation, it aligns the City with out of state environmental groups calling to phase out the use of natural gas in local buildings and businesses.
By excluding Texas-produced natural gas – and the environmental benefits it provides - the draft plan would raise costs for Dallas residents and threaten the reliability of power generation in the city.
Natural gas is crucial to providing Texas residents with affordable and reliable electricity. As the draft plan acknowledges, natural gas accounts for 45 percent of the state’s fuel mix, which is forecasted to grow to over 60 percent by 2030. Notably, increased natural gas use is a key driver of carbon emission reductions in the United States. Natural gas has 55% lower carbon dioxide emissions than coal. By switching from coal to cleaner-burning natural gas for power generation, the United States prevented 2.8 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions between 2005 and 2018. No other fuel – including renewables – comes even close to delivering the kind of climate progress we have experienced thanks to natural gas.
In addition to protecting the environment, natural gas saves consumers money. Affordable and abundant natural gas makes up the lion’s share of Texas’ electricity generation, and allowed Lone Star State residents to enjoy electricity prices roughly 20 percent below the national average in 2018. Transitioning away from natural gas means abandoning those valuable savings, which will hit working families the hardest. On average, low-income households pay more than three times the amount that higher income households pay in energy costs. Failing to include natural gas in the final CECAP would potentially lead to higher electricity prices for Dallas consumers and disproportionately impact some of the most economically vulnerable households in the City.
Further, phasing out the use of natural gas in buildings and businesses in Dallas would add additional cost burdens to residents. Using natural gas appliances can save consumers up to 30 percent on their utility bills compared to electric appliances. When used for home heating, households can save well over $900 compared to an electric heating system. The potential costs associated with switching to electrification are significant, especially for the City’s lower income residents.
By ignoring natural gas in the draft CECAP, Dallas would be missing out on the reliability that the fuel provides. One of the plan’s stated goals is that the City “generates and uses renewable, reliable, and affordable energy,” and specifically highlights maintaining “a high degree of reliability during extreme weather events.” Achieving the goals of reliability and affordability in Texas would be extremely difficult – if not impossible – without natural gas.
Natural gas provides an important backstop for renewable technologies, ensuring generation is maintained when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing. The intermittency of power generated by renewables means they are particularly susceptible during an “extreme weather event.” While there are some options to bolster this reliability, such as batteries, today these technologies simply can’t compete with the dependability of existing natural gas generation. Moreover, the reliable distribution of the fuel through pipelines ensures Texans could keep their homes heated, cook food or boil water – all vital during a natural disaster.
There is a reason that Texas is not only the largest wind producing state, but also the largest natural gas producer and consumer. Renewables and natural gas are complementary technologies that are delivering cleaner and more affordable power for Texas families.
While we commend the Council for their efforts to improve the city, the benefits of natural gas – namely, its role in mitigating emissions, saving consumers money on their monthly bills, and providing a reliable source of energy – are too significant to ignore. We strongly urge the members of the Environment & Sustainability Committee to keep these benefits in mind when considering the draft CECAP.
Texans for Natural Gas