As PNW utilities contemplate building decarbonization, affordability concerns linger
As utilities in the Pacific Northwest begin to grapple with the implications of decarbonizing the built environment, questions around affordability — and the role of natural gas in a transitioning energy system — continue to be front of mind.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) President and CEO Mary Kipp believes that because of the time it takes to build new transmission and deploy other resources, the utility needs to use its existing natural gas infrastructure in the near term. “And I wasn’t always a believer in that,” Kipp said at a panel Tuesday, “so it’s actually taken me looking at quite a bit of data to come to that conclusion.”
But some clean energy advocates have different recommendations. All-electric new construction is hands down more economic than mixed fuel construction, Stephanie Greene, senior principal at RMI, said at the panel. “And so all-electric new construction would be a wonderful way to start ensuring that the system becomes more affordable for customers.”