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How Utilities Can Get Ratepayers to Help Fund the Climate Crisis
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How Utilities Can Get Ratepayers to Help Fund the Climate Crisis


Image for article titled The Secret Fee on Your Utility Bill That's Helping Fund the Climate Crisis

Photo: Marijan Murat/picture-alliance/dpa (AP)

Your Boring, dryUtility billThis is fueling the climate crisis. FMany customers across the U.S. receive a portion of the money for utilitiesEvery month goes towards building Continue readingNatural gas infrastructure. As New York City moves this week to vote on a bill that would ban the use of new natural gas infrastructure, Natural gas hookups,Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), has released a report that explains why customers should stop paying the bill—to protect people’sMoney and the Planet.

Every year, utilities install thousands more customer gas lines. They’re being putIn the groundThe U.S. averages around one new line per minute, locking in gas use for many years to come. The costs of these new gas lines aren’t paid for by contractors building homes and apartments orThe utility itself. Instead, Customers subsidize them.

THis approach made sense in the past. Help was available to new customersConnectBuildingsNatural gas line, which will help to increase access to energy and lower housing costs. Existing utility customers could reap the benefits of having more people contributing financially to the system.

“The premise is that this is an important and useful service that should be universal,” said Sherri Billimoria, a manager in RMI’s Carbon-Free Buildings program and a co-The report’s author. “It was also considered a good investment. TThe utility, which includes all ratepayers and customers, will pay the money for the line extension.Then,This customer will continue to be a gas customer throughout their entire life. they will pay back this amount.”

This is changing due to the potential dangers natural gas poses for the climate as a potent methane source. A growing number of cities and states are pursuing this goal. Natural gas is being phased outCalifornia passed a new set o building codes in August that encourages electric appliances. Wind downGas hookupsWhile the New York City Council is set to Vote on a similar measureWednesday. TheFuture without natural gas is in sight, and it’s getting harder and harder to make the argument that utilities should keep charging ratepayersLock in more gas infrastructureThis could become obsolete as more cities and states add to it set decarbonization targets.

“We don’t expect to use gas in the future in the same ways that we have in the past,” Billimoria said.

Billimoria explained that the current system also serves to incentivize people building new homes and buildings to choose an option that may not, in the longer term, be in the consumer’s best interest.

“It creates incentives for the developer to choose gas because the line—at least a portion of it, often all of it—is free to the developer,” she said. “In fact, in the absence of that allowance, or even sometimes with that allowance, it would actually be cheaper to build all-electric. We know that all electric new construction is cost effective in many, many situations. While the developer may choose the cheapest option, the future will show that gas prices will rise as customers leave the system, but that the fixed cost of the system will not change. The customer who chooses gas today because that’s what their developer tells them to do doesn’t know that they might be saddled with pretty hefty gas bills in the future.”

This backdrop of change has also seen a sharp increase in gas hookups spending. The amount of money U.S. utilities spent to construct homes tripled between 2009 and 2009. It jumped from $5 billion to $20 billion in 2009. 2011 and 2019. (Before this, spending had been hovering around $5 billion or less since 1987. Part of this expansion is thanks to aging infrastructure that needs additional maintenance—but expansion of physical infrastructure like gas lines is also built into how public utilities turn a profit.

The challenge to the Allowing utility money to be used for gas hookups in the United States is a relatively new concept. Only Washington and California have made minor changes. However, gas utilities have been some Opponents can be heardBuilding electrification while also working behind The scenes.It’s not out of the question to assume that they’d be opposed to any move that would make it harder for more people to pay for more natural gas. It remains to be seen whether the industry will wake up to the fact that gas is scarce and work to secure a gas-free future.—or keep fighting to maintain the status quoRegardless of the cost to consumers.


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