U.S. Power Grids Saved By Natural Gas, Again
Grid reliability – driven by natural gas – is paramount to ensuring equitable, affordable access to energy for Americans across the United States, especially those living in areas prone to extreme weather events.
This summer, many parts of the United States. saw record-breaking temperatures, which increased demand. Peak demand, alongside the shift towards electrification, resulted in more strain on power grids across the nation. While several utility operators warned about potential power disruptions, they agreed that ultimately natural gas was essential in securing the power grid and keeping the power on, noting that natural gas “remained a bedrock.”
In fact, the Energy Information Administration reported that natural gas remained the top energy source nationwide, accounting for a larger share of electricity compared to the previous year.
Vice President of Security and Preparedness for the Edison Electric Institute, Scott Aaronson, underscored this in Politico:
“That means fossil fuels have shown their worth in balancing wind and solar at times when breezes don’t blow and the sun is not shining…It sounds like a talking point when someone says ‘all of the above,’ but we genuinely benefit from an ‘all of the above’ strategy. Each resource has its benefits and drawbacks … but taken holistically, they make for a much more resilient grid.”
EID has written repeatedly on how natural gas is the most reliable and cost-effective method to to fill intermittency gaps left by renewable energy such as wind and solar, as natural gas’ impact on maintaining dispatchable energy during periods of peak demand is a well-documented trend. Most recently, the Northeast and Midwest relied upon natural gas during Winter Storm Elliot, and when Buffalo, New York experienced power outages, New York Independent System Operator’s Vice President of Operations Aaron Markham emphasized:
“Intermittent resources such as solar and wind are not fully dispatchable. From a reliability perspective, [the renewable additions] are not a one-for-one replacement for the fossil resources being retired.”
In addition, a recent Morning Consult poll concluded that over 33 percent of respondents expect the transition to renewable generation to increase the likelihood of power outages, with 70 percent underscoring peak demand periods in the summer is a major concern. Beyond ensuring reliability and resiliency across the United States’ power grids, the same poll noted that without natural gas generation, almost 50 percent of respondents were worried about rising costs of energy.
The Bottom Line: An “all of the above” approach to energy production is vital for stabilizing power grids across the United States., as well as boosting domestic jobs and securing American energy independence. Without increased domestic natural gas production, many Americans are concerned U.S. power grids will experience increased likelihoods of outages—all while energy costs rise. American energy independence and security will remain dependent upon reliable, affordable, and abundant natural gas for several decades to come.