New Tool Helps New York Gas Utility Planners Align Business Decisions with Climate Goals
(NEW YORK – May 3, 2021) As the New York debate over natural gas builds, experts from Environmental Defense Fund today filed comments in a state proceeding aimed at overhauling gas utility planning in an effort to help the state shift away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner energy sources. EDF’s filing includes a first-of-its-kind greenhouse gas emissions lifecycle tool developed with MJ Bradley & Associates, an ERM Group Company, that gives the New York Public Service Commission, or PSC, and utilities the data they need to align business plans with the state’s climate goals.
“Every dollar spent by gas utilities either moves us closer to or further from our climate goals,” said Erin Murphy, Senior Attorney, Energy Markets & Utility Regulation at EDF. “New York needs a gas utility planning process that considers the true climate costs of our choices, so we can make better decisions for the future of our state and communities.”
Until now, it has been difficult for utilities and the public to easily compare investment in energy efficiency, biomethane or other fossil fuel alternatives in a way that reduces costs and complies with New York’s requirement of an 85% reduction in statewide emissions by 2050. A comprehensive approach to long-term planning is critical to ensuring that today’s spend on future gas infrastructure will lead to a fair and equitable transition.
“Achieving climate goals will require employing a variety of strategies to decarbonize energy supply and reduce total energy demand,” said Brian Jones, Senior Vice President at M.J. Bradley & Associates. “By providing a rigorous, consistent and transparent approach to quantifying emissions, this framework and tool will allow gas utilities and stakeholders to compare different supply- and demand-side approaches and assess the impacts of specific gas utility plans.”
“Given the short window in which we must address climate change, investing in further gas infrastructure presents clear stranded asset risk, especially as alternatives like electrification become increasingly competitive,” said Lila Holzman, Senior Energy Program Manager at As You Sow.
She added, “Transparent disclosure from gas-reliant utilities on their supply chain emissions has been severely lacking. This new tool will be immensely useful to investors seeking to understand the full climate impacts of utility gas use and whether disclosed investment plans are truly aligned with environmental goals.”
The Gas Company Climate Planning Tool is a free, unbiased and data-driven model for state regulators, utilities and the public to evaluate the long-term climate impacts of various energy scenarios. Pre-populated with publicly reported natural gas data from all 50 states, it can be used to evaluate energy scenarios anywhere in the country to help reduce the pollution and costs associated with new gas utility infrastructure investments.
For more details, see the Gas Company Climate Planning Tool’s accompanying report, A Framework for Gas Company Climate Planning in New York, and our expert blog post on this topic.
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