A Washington Post editorial this past weekend suggested that natural gas be included in state renewable portfolio standards and in the federal renewable electricity standard now before Congress. It would be a convenient way to retire some coal plants and reduce greenhouse gases, the Post said.
To avoid the obvious argument that natural gas is not renewable, the editorial described the state rules and proposed federal rule as “clean energy” rather than renewable standards. Nice try; they are called renewable standards for a reason.
Semantics aside, the Big Three utility fuels–natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy–all pose risks. For the sake of human health and the environment, national security, and the consumer prices, we need to diversify the fuels used by electric utilities. Renewables–hydro, biomass, solar and wind–do not pollute or cause health problems, and are not subject to price volatility. The purpose of state and federal renewable standards is to encourage utilities to diversify their mix to include these renewable sources. Putting gas into the mix makes no sense, and not just because it is not renewable. It is already in the mix–in fact, it is the fastest growing utility generating source.