Many don’t know this, but wind and solar energy generation have a secret, reliable friend: natural gas.
The steel and metals used to construct windmills and solar panels are commonly made with machines and in factories powered by natural gas. Natural gas also quietly serves as a backup resource for generating electricity on days when the sun doesn’t shine, or wind doesn’t blow.
Something must power these intermittent — albeit growing and much-needed — sources of electricity generation when weather fluctuates and nighttime falls. That’s natural gas, a cleaner-burning resource that has helped America lead all countries in emission reductions while helping Virginia families, businesses and manufacturers save more than $10.9 billion in energy-related expenses between 2006 and 2016.
These savings were especially advantageous for the more than 874,000 Virginians in poverty and countless others living paycheck to paycheck, all of whom regularly see a dangerously large percent of their income go toward energy expenses.
Of course, the resource is also the lifeblood of countless Virginians. The oil and natural gas sector contributed 125,500 jobs and accounted for nearly $7 billion in wages across the Old Dominion in 2015. A third of households here use natural gas for home heating, and half of the state’s power generation relies on natural gas.
That’s why it’s disappointing to hear that the Mountain Valley natural gas pipeline’s completion has been delayed until the middle of next year. This project, like the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — another delayed piece of badly-needed infrastructure — have seen costs skyrocket and work hindered for a variety of reasons, none more prevalent than misguided opposition from a few vocal activists.
The best way to ensure a diverse energy portfolio that creates a path for more wind and solar is to support the resource that renewables need the most — natural gas.
VIRGINIA DIRECTOR FOR CONSUMER ENERGY ALLIANCE