Overemphasis on natural gas a threat to energy stability

Executives from three major American utility companies shared their belief recently that the shift to natural gas-fired generation could create as many problems for the country's electricity transmission system as it solves without certain checks, according to Bloomberg.

Natural gas power plants recently matched the output of coal-fired generation for the first time in the history of the U.S. thanks to the massive growth in supply created by the spread of advanced unconventional natural gas production techniques and stricter carbon emissions rules.

But executives from NV Energy, NextEra Energy and Southern Co. explained at a Bloomberg Government breakfast that if too many utilities come to rely primarily on natural gas for fuel, the economy will be vulnerable to sudden shifts in the price of the hydrocarbon.

"One of the things I think that’s been an important lesson learned in our industry over many, many decades is the importance of fuel diversity," said Lewis Hay, executive chairman of NextEra Energy. "Any time you get too dependent on any one fuel, we’ll live to regret it."

In addition, many renewable energy advocates worry that readily available cheap natural gas could limit investment in power sources like wind and solar.

Natural gas prospects through 2016 can be found at PennEnergy's Research area.

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