Cheap clean energy makes new natural gas a risky bet utility regulators should avoid

by Mike O’Boyle, Forbes

Utilities across the United States are rapidly decarbonizing their generation fleets, but are diverging between two paths: Completely phasing out fossil fuels in favor of clean generation like Xcel Energy, or doubling down on new natural gas generation like Duke Energy. Stakes are high – our climate future and utilities’ economic future both depend on which path regulators allow utilities to choose.

These paths are not equal. Recent progress reducing electricity sector emissions, down 25% since 2005, stalled in 2018 due to a huge uptick in gas generation. And new natural gas rarely makes economic sense, even without considering externalities like greenhouse gas emissions. The math of recent solar-plus-storage projects, particularly Nevada’s June NV Energy procurement, signals that clean and dispatchable energy is available for less than the cost of new natural gas – a death-knell for new gas plants and harbinger of future economic concerns.

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