Stop connecting new buildings to gas lines
Will Rogers said, “When you’re in a hole, stop digging.” We here in Maryland are in the hole of too much dependence on fossil gas as a heat source in our buildings. So let’s stop digging! Let’s stop connecting our new buildings to gas lines.
All-electric buildings are healthier, better for our climate and produce lower utility bills. Montgomery County recently decided to electrify its new buildings and Howard County is now considering it in its “Clean New Buildings Climate Act” (CB5). Thank you to Council Chair Christiana Rigby for introducing this act and to Council member Liz Walsh and Chair Rigby for adding strengthening amendments.
The Baltimore Sun explained why this is so important in its recent editorial “Maryland must embrace its electric future” (Feb. 16). After pointing out Maryland’s extreme vulnerability to the effects of climate change, which we in Ellicott City know a little about after experiencing two “thousand-year floods” in two years, the editorial asked whether it was worth the cost of transitioning away from gas appliances. The answer? “You better believe it.” I agree.
— Cheryl Arney, Ellicott City
The writer is a volunteer with Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Improving gas system is an investment in public safety and health
The recent commentary by the Maryland People’s Counsel missed the mark by implying natural gas customers should not have to pay the cost of improving natural gas delivery systems, arguing that those delivery systems will eventually become obsolete as we shift from gas to electricity to meet climate goals (”Unnecessary gas investments set to raise rates; Maryland regulator must intervene,” Feb. 10).
Reducing natural gas leaks is one of the most important things that can be done right now to reduce pollution that is causing climate change. Furthermore, gas leaks are dangerous.
You don’t have to look very far back in The Sun’s archives to find out that “Baltimore’s natural gas system is increasingly leaky, raising concerns about safety and global warming” (Sept. 18, 2019). BGE’s website lists the neighborhoods where investments replacing old gas distribution pipes with new ones is enhancing safety and reliability.
As President Biden confirmed in his State of the Union Address, “We have an obligation, not to ourselves, but to our children and our grandchildren to confront [the climate crisis]. I’m proud of how America at last is stepping up to the challenge. We’re still going to need oil and gas for a while.”
Yes, fixing leaky natural gas distribution lines will increase the cost of natural gas, but subsidizing this increase would only hide the real cost of continuing to use fossil fuels. A better use of subsidies would be to help individuals shift away from burning fossil fuels.
Improving our natural gas distribution system is a necessary investment in safety and public health.
— Susan Wierman, Towson
Science supports a move away from gas
David Lapp, the People’s Counsel, has it right. Jason M. Stanek, chair of the Maryland Public Service Commission, has it wrong (”There is a role for the gas system in Maryland’s carbon-free future, says PSC chairman,” Feb. 14).
A future with methane, aka “natural gas,” remaining a significant energy source means economic, social and environmental chaos.
As a lifelong Maryland ratepayer I want the Public Service Commission to transition our state out of methane as soon as practically possible. I want this because I want a livable future.
“Sometimes the best approach when faced with uncertainty is to not foreclose future solutions and to let the experts do their work,” you say, Mr. Stanek? You are not heeding the data and following the science Mr. Stanek; whatever experience you purport to have is obsolete.
— Andrew Hinz, Baltimore
We must do more than simply halt dirty energy projects
The Office of People’s Counsel is right to warn about the outrageous costs of expanding gas infrastructure in Maryland — projects that are paid for by the ratepayers, whether we like it or not (“Maryland gas companies should plan for an electrified future, decrease spending, ratepayers’ advocate warns,” Feb. 13). As Maryland transitions to relying on clean renewable energy, we cannot keep building new dirty energy projects, or encouraging homeowners to buy new gas equipment.
But we must go much further. Loopholes in Maryland’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard have squandered millions of ratepayer dollars supporting dirty energy sources like trash incineration and biomass. It goes without saying that these sources of air pollution, including greenhouse gas emissions, have no place in a clean energy program. Lawmakers can remove dirty energy from Maryland’s RPS by supporting The Reclaim Renewable Energy Act (House Bill 718), which will close dirty energy loopholes and ensure that Maryland’s clean energy program lives up to its name.
— Anne C.A. Wilson, Baltimore
Natural gas harmful to atmosphere
Jason Stanek has it exactly wrong in his commentary “There is a role for the gas system in Maryland’s carbon-free future, says PSC chairman” (Feb. 14). Contrary to his theory, the world needs to cap the gas pipe and stop burning fossil fuel. Here’s why: Methane, which we affectionately called “natural gas,” has a GWP (Global Warming Potential) of about 30, which means it traps 30 times more heat than carbon dioxide traps, and it stays in the atmosphere for a hundred years.
The Public Service Commission needs to be innovative in capping the gas pipe, not innovative in finding ways to justify the burning of carbon that has been sequestered in the earth for 60 million years. Today a crew is actively tearing up Falls Road to bury bulky yellow methane pipes, a clear and present danger to our grandchildren. Better to invest in a smart electrical grid powered by wind and solar.
— David Saunders, Baltimore
Why am I paying to prop up a climate-destroying system?
I read with dismay that BGE wants to raise our utility rates an average of $210.95 in 2024, $220.39 in 2025, and $228.66 in 2026, in part to pay for new methane gas delivery infrastructure (”BGE’s proposed rate increase would be difficult burden for many, say customers, officials and advocates,” Feb. 24). Whatever part of the rate increase is tied to methane gas, except for basic safety, should be rejected by the Maryland Public Service Commission.
Just last year the General Assembly passed major climate legislation that will require the winding down of methane gas as a fuel to heat homes and businesses over the next 30 years. This is smart, because methane (so-called “natural” gas) is a major cause of the carbon emissions creating climate chaos.
But the state’s largest utility wants to continue spending hundreds of millions on gas infrastructure. Why do they do it? Simple. That’s how they make money for their shareholders, as documented by the state’s Office of People’s Counsel. Utility profits come not from the actual costs of energy but from energy transmission, especially infrastructure investments.
I should not have to pay every month for new gas pipelines to prop up a climate-destroying system that is going defunct for good reason. It’s like asking me to pay for a system to deliver dirty coal, or whale oil. I hope that the Public Service Commission takes a hard look at BGE’s rate proposals and sends them back to the drawing board. Our climate future is at stake.
— Doug Siglin, Highland