API: Natural Gas Generation is Essential to the Reliability of America’s Electric Power System

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During yesterday’s U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy’s hearing to examine reliability in a transforming electricity industry, API Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Marty Durbin highlighted the reliability and resilience of natural gas power generation.

Key quotes from Durbin’s testimony include:

“The increased use of natural gas in electric power generation has not only enhanced the reliability of the overall system, but it has also provided significant environmental and consumer benefits. The abundance, affordability, low-emissions profile and flexibility of natural gas and natural gas-fired generating units make natural gas a fuel of choice. There is no question, however, that the bulk power system will continue to rely on multiple fuels, including natural gas, nuclear, coal, hydro, wind and solar, as projected by the Energy Information Administration.”

“For those who believe fuel diversity is important for grid reliability, the good news is that the nation’s electric power generation portfolio is far more diverse today than it was a decade ago, largely due to the increased use of affordable, reliable natural gas. Government forecasts show that diversity being maintained ten years from now and beyond.”

“However, it is important to remember that fuel diversity in and of itself does not equal reliability. Reliability is derived from a diversity of attributes in generation, not a diversity of fuel sources. PJM’s March 2017 report, Evolving Resource Mix and System Reliability, noted ‘More diverse [fuel] portfolios are not necessarily more reliable.’

“That said, in every meaningful way, the inherent attributes of natural gas-fueled generation, including dispatchability, security of fuel supply, start times, frequency response, ramp rates and minimum load level, to name a few, make the electric grid more reliable and resilient.  We believe policy focused on ensuring the reliability and resilience of the nation’s electrical grid should also ensure that is accomplished at a reasonable cost, which reason and research tell us can be best achieved by allowing markets to play the dominant role in determining the fuel mix of the generation portfolio.”

“Market forces and public policy, are driving the ongoing shift in our nation’s power generation mix. Natural gas generation is an important and growing part of that mix. Collectively, the environmental advantages, reliability, and affordability of natural gas have allowed it to earn its market share in the electricity generation space because it provides, and will continue to provide, reliable, low-cost fuel for electricity generation and cost savings to consumers.”

A complete transcript of Durbin’s testimony can be found on API’s website.

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