12. RESPONSIBLE CONSUMPTION AND PRODUCTION

Building Electrification: The Future of Home Energy

Building Electrification: The Future of Home Energy
Written by ZJbTFBGJ2T

Building Electrification: The Future of Home Energy  NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council)

Building Electrification: The Future of Home Energy

Gas Utilities in Illinois Request Record-High Rate Increase

Illinois’ three major gas utilities requested to raise rates this January to the tune of $900 million at a time when a significant portion of Illinoisans are struggling to pay their utility bills. Gas utilities are trying to extract more money from their customers to build their increasingly expensive and dirty system. If approved, this record-high-rate increase will hurt the public and our planet. We must transition to a cleaner and cheaper way to heat our homes.

Transitioning to Building Electrification to Meet Climate Goals

To meet our climate goals, we must scale down our state’s gas system. Luckily, we have a cost-effective alternative to the gas system—building electrification. Building electrification is the process of moving away from the gas system by powering our homes with electric appliances. Electrification can help buildings become more energy efficient and less polluting as the electric grid becomes cleaner. Building electrification will transform how we power our homes and transition us off the dirty gas system. This transition frightens the gas utilities.

Despite the gas utilities’ best marketing efforts and fearmongering, the gas system is undergoing a transformation. Gas utilities cannot press forward with “business as usual” spending for three main reasons: 1) residents cannot afford their ever-increasing gas bills, 2) building electrification is a reliable and cheaper alternative to the gas system, and 3) Illinoisans will almost certainly use less gas in the future.

Gas Utilities Put a Strain on Illinoisans’ Budgets

Illinois has an energy affordability crisis. Census data from February 2023 showed a glimpse of this crisis. The report found that 18.2% of Illinois households keep their homes at an unsafe temperature, and 19.6% were unable to pay their energy bill in full. Too many Illinoisans have to choose between paying their gas bill or purchasing necessities such as food or medicine. But when many Illinoisans are struggling, gas utilities want more.

Utilities like Peoples Gas are driving the gas affordability crisis in Illinois. Despite making record profits in 2022, Peoples Gas has one of the highest customer charge in the Midwest. Before even using a single bit of gas, Chicagoans must pay Peoples Gas around $380 each year to upkeep their system. That number will jump to over $500 if Peoples’ rate proposal is approved, exacerbating energy burdens for people who already cannot afford their gas bill. This burden is not felt equally among Illinoisans. Communities of color often experience higher energy burdens and shutoffs due to systematic inequities in our society. While Peoples Gas has pocketed record profits, communities on the South and West sides of Chicago are disproportionately struggling.

A Way Out From Under: Building Electrification

Residents being squeezed by skyrocketing gas bills deserve better energy options. Electrification is a cost-effective alternative to using gas in the Peoples Gas territory given the volatility of gas prices and the ever-increasing expense of gas pipeline infrastructure.

Testimony from Energy Futures Group (“EFG”) in the Peoples Gas rate case currently before the Illinois Commerce Commission presents robust analysis of the cost-savings potential of electrification for the average residential building in Chicago. Customers who live in a single-family home will see cost savings in the very first year after transitioning to all-electric heating. Financial incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will create even more savings for the folks that want to electrify their homes. The benefits of electrification are even greater for newly built homes. An RMI study found that installing a heat pump instead of a gas-powered furnace in a new home will save residents $4,000 over the lifetime of the appliance.

Illinoisans are on Track to Use Less Gas in the Coming Years

Gas utilities draft their proposal for rate increases based on a variety of factors, including gas use and cost to maintain their system. A proposed increase must accurately forecast how much gas its customers will use in the future, which in turn determines the necessary investments needed to meet their customers’ needs. Utilities often argue that their customers will continue to use gas at the same rate or increase their usage over the next few years in order to justify a proposed rate increase. This flawed argument not only cost customers more on their monthly gas bill but will lead to utilities investing in a dirty system that will become obsolete in the coming years.

Illinoisans are making it clear they support policies that decrease our dependence on gas and combat climate change. To meet our nrdc.org

 

Join us, as fellow seekers of change, on a transformative journey at https://sdgtalks.ai/welcome, where you can become a member and actively contribute to shaping a brighter future.

 

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