Puget Sound Energy: Natural gas ban proposal ‘puts our region at risk’
A possible ban on natural gas in Seattle has spurred debate since it was first proposed by Councilmember Mike O’Brien. Not consulted before that proposal, though, was Puget Sound Energy, the organization providing natural gas to roughly 150,000 homes in Seattle.
For PSE, that’s raised concerns that the ban doesn’t factor in a myriad of consequences it would incur.
“While this proposal right now is only talking about no new gas hookups, it’s really talking about eliminating gas, and to even open that conversation without some planning and some forethought really puts our region at risk,” PSE Vice President Andy Wappler told KIRO Radio’s Candy, Mike and Todd Show.
Wappler points to a handful of factors to weigh. First and foremost, eliminating natural gas would necessitate a new energy source, something he says “the system isn’t ready to electrically handle in the first place.”
Beyond that, he describes a need to properly look into what such a ban would even look like logistically.
“To come out with something like a ban and propose that without any study, it’s a big deal,” Wappler said. “I think it also skipped right past the question of ‘what are you going replace that power with?’ That’s gonna be tough.”
According to Wappler, natural gas represents a third of the energy consumed by Seattle on “an ordinary day.” On colder days, it’s closer to two-thirds.
Others have pointed out that the ripple effects from a ban would be significant across numerous industries. That includes the housing market, skilled laborers, builders, and more.
This comes not long after San Francisco introduced its own legislation for a ban, and after Berkeley became the first U.S. city to actually pass one. San Francisco City Supervisor Vallie Brown estimates that natural gas in buildings generates 44 percent of the city’s emissions.
Seattle City Council will begin discussing the proposed ban on Tuesday.