Dear <<First Name>>,

Last week the Atlanta Journal-Constitution published an essay praising the virtues of methane gas from a Georgia Public Service Commissioner. It was wrong on every level.

First, an official elected by the people of Georgia to regulate monopoly utilities should not be acting as their spokesperson.

Second, Commissioner Shaw does not mention that Georgians pay the 3rd highest natural gas bills in the country. We pay the highest flat fees of any state by a wide margin: $350/year before the first therm of gas is consumed. Wonder why - is he concerned about that for us?

High flat fees and demand charges, which few or maybe no other states allow, are the result of gas industry influence when Georgia deregulated gas in the 90s.

Third, his essay misleads. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission did not make an announcement it was considering a ban on natural gas stoves. There was one out of the 5 commissioners who made a statement that he would consider such a ban. The natural gas industry went nuts.

Why is this happening now? In January there were over 10,000 news stories on new research linking gas stoves to childhood asthma. Indoor air pollution and gas stoves is old news to those of us who work in energy but it hasn’t burst into public awareness until now. That’s the reason for Shaw’s essay - damage control. You’ll see a lot more such rah rah essays about gas in the future,

Even though gas stoves don’t use much fuel compared to furnaces, losing consumer affection for gas stoves is an existential threat. Modern heat pumps are already superior to gas furnaces but people don’t “love” their furnaces the way they do their stove so what fuel type consumers cook with is very important.

Everyone can keep their gas stoves, of course - there are no jack booted government thugs coming to take your stove. But you should know gas stoves emit harmful pollutants even when turned off, and there is a strong link to higher rates of childhood asthma in homes even with ventilation (which most people don’t use, or don’t use properly).

Next, Commissioner Shaw contradicts himself by calling renewables unreliable but later brags about Georgia being ranked 7th in the nation for installed solar.

He also claims renewables threaten the grid but offers no proof. They don’t. In fact it’s fossil fuels that rocked the Texas power grid, not renewables.

Fifth, Commissioner Shaw throws in an inaccurate dig on local, customer-owned solar by saying Georgia reached 7th place in installed solar without subsidies. That's rich given the heavily subsidized nuclear Plant Vogtle, now the most expensive power plant ever built on earth, here in Georgia. But we dare not subsidize solar!

If you are thinking, this is federal, not state - know that there have been extensive state subsidies. Tens of millions totaling about $2.2 billion so far. I’ve written about them in prior posts.

And rooftop solar is not a subsidy if it saves grid costs - which is does. The commission hasn’t conducted a study to see how much money rooftop solar would save from avoided substation upgrades, long distance power lines, and reduced peaker plant usage. This is intentional. And local solar in Georgia is at a pathetic saturation rate of only 0.2% of residential customers as Georgia Power wants. The Georgia PSC’s hostility to rooftop solar keeps Georgia in 46th place for state rankings despite ranking as the 14th sunniest state in the nation.

Finally, Mr. Shaw uses the utility talking point of supporting an “all-of-the-above” strategy. What that really means is to protect utility owned generation so that they earn a guaranteed rate of return. It’s clear that the American Gas Association wrote this piece for Commissioner Shaw. It follows their playbook perfectly.

Let’s look at this issue a bit more: indoor air pollution is not regulated. It is up to everyone to decide for themselves how to handle new information showing a link to childhood asthma from the study.

Want to see the science behind the issue? Just click on any image to read the article.

The gas industry does extensive work to keep people thinking gas cooking is superior to any other method. Many chefs who have tried induction say it’s far superior and many professional kitchens are switching over.

The gas industry sponsors gas cooking tracks at culinary schools and offers scholarships. It’s not better. It’s better sponsored.

Bottom line: induction cooking is considered superior by those who’ve tried it. If you are upgrading your kitchen you should probably replace your gas stove for many reasons: eliminating indoor air pollution; reducing fossil use; and superior cooking. The Inflation Reduction Act provides subsidies to help since reducing appliances and machines that fossil gas helps fight climate change.

There’s a great podcast you can listen to for more information. Search for Volts in your podcast app for the Jan. 25th episode “Fine, we’re doing gas stoves”. It’s amazing.

Hey you made it to the end. Reward! Here is a funny one minute video on the issue of gasoline vs. electricity showing a skit - what if all our appliances and devices used gasoline?

Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

Nissan LEAF: Gas Powered Everything commercial

Please forward this to others and post on your social media platforms.

Regarding the election there is still no ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. So we wait.