Gas Utilities Knock Electric AppliancesApr 30, 2021 ● By Rachael Oppy
As cities phase out the installation of gas lines in new buildings to cut down on methane emissions, gas utilities have been staging adversarial campaigns nationwide. In Santa Barbara, California, residents received warnings that a gas ban would dramatically increase their bills. The Pacific Northwest group Partnership for Energy Progress, funded in part by Washington state’s largest natural gas utility, Puget Sound Energy, has spent at least $1 million opposing heating electrification in Bellingham and Seattle, including $91,000 on bus ads with the slogan, “Reliable. Affordable. Natural Gas. Here for You.” In Oklahoma, Arizona, Louisiana and Tennessee, the industry has worked aggressively with state legislatures to pass laws to prevent cities from passing cleaner building codes.
The American Gas Association even has a website dedicated to promoting cooking with gas. Surveys have found that most people are open to switching water heaters and furnaces from gas to electric versions, so gas company advertising has made gas stoves a symbol of wealth, good taste and status for consumers, builders and realtors. Gas connections in American houses are at an all-time high, but as Americans realize that natural gas is a powerful contributor to climate change and source of air pollution, at least 42 cities have strengthened building codes to discourage expanding gas hookups in new construction.