The natural gas advantage
Community energy planners should consider three essential aspects of sustainability when considering the importance of a community energy plan (CEP) for their community.
Natural gas is the most affordable way to heat your home and business. The annual cost of natural gas energy is as much as 60 per cent cheaper when compared to propane, furnace oil and electricity.
Natural gas has lower emissions than coal, diesel, propane or oil and proven Demand Side Management (DSM) programs to assist in meeting conservation goals.
With massive supplies right here in North America, the price of natural gas will remain low for years to come. This will help businesses in your community be more competitive as well as attract new businesses, creating and supporting direct and indirect local jobs.
What's clear is that natural gas is a vital part of Ontario's energy future. And when it comes to planning for long-term economic, environmental and social sustainability, natural gas delivers a distinct advantage. Let's look in greater detail at the three pillars supporting the program:
Economy: The savings breakdown
Overall, low-carbon, affordable natural gas is delivering approximately $5 billion in annual savings to Ontario’s families, businesses and industry—savings that are being reinvested into the economy.
Ontario residential natural gas customers have, on average, $400 more in discretionary spending today than they did in 2007 due to the shrinking commodity costs brought on by vast new supplies of North American natural gas. Over the past decade, natural gas is the only fuel that has actually dropped in price.
Environment: The low-carbon energy to watch
As a low-carbon energy source, natural gas plays a key role in moving Ontario towards a cleaner future, enhancing the quality of life for all Ontarians. Each year, our DSM programs eliminate enough greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to equal taking 2.9 million cars off of Ontario roads.
Ontario’s recently built natural gas power plants are very flexible assets within the power system which deliver significantly lower emissions than coal. Natural gas seamlessly and affordably enabled the government to meet its 2014 target date for the phase-out of coal-fired electricity.
The use of compressed natural gas (CNG) and renewable natural gas (RNG) as alternative fuels is growing rapidly in North America. Lower carbon fuels such as CNG and RNG are a logical fit for greener supply chains and will help meet escalating environmental targets. When used for transportation, they are a very attractive alternative to diesel for your bottom line and the environment.
Consider the environmental advantages of CNG:
The environmental benefits of RNG:
- Greenhouse gas reductions—up to 25 per cent less compared with diesel.
- Less air pollution—lower NOx and volatile organic compounds (VOC) and near zero particulates.
- RNG is not a fossil fuel and does not add carbon to the environment
- Lower GHG emissions—capturing landfill gas prevents the release of methane.
Organic waste is a valuable resource that will play a critical role in the development of RNG resources. RNG is a carbon-neutral fuel that can be created from decomposing organic waste, which can be found in landfills, for example. Biogas from such sources can be cleaned and injected into the natural gas system.
Since 1997, Union Gas’ DSM programs have saved approximately 6.3 billion cubic metres of natural gas and helped avoid 11.8 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.
"Natural gas DSM is the modification of consumer demand for natural gas through various methods such as financial incentives, education and other programs. While the focus of DSM is natural gas savings and the reduction in GHG emissions, it may also result in the saving of a number of other resources such as electricity, water, propane and heating fuel oil."
Ontario Energy Board, EB-2008-0346, June 30, 2011.
Union Gas has filed DSM plans with the Ontario Energy Board since 1997. Our current plan is guided by the following objectives:
- Maximizing cost-effective natural gas savings.
- Promotion of deep energy savings: programs that result in long-term savings.
We have over 20 years of experience in program design and promotion of energy savings to our customers.
With programs for residential households, residential home builders, low income housing, agriculture, commercial and industrial buildings, we can help identify energy saving programs to reduce demand, lower energy costs and lower greenhouse gas emissions.
Employment: Keeping Ontario working
With more than 70,000 kilometres of pipeline in Ontario, Union Gas is well positioned to use its significant infrastructure to spur growth on a number of levels, whether it be the electricity market, manufacturing, greenhouses or community energy needs.
The $5 billion in annual natural gas savings is essentially a stimulus that does not require government support. The savings can allow organizations to think about expansion of their workforce or making their energy use more efficient.
Natural gas has an important role to play in energy sustainability for Ontario. Whether you are developing an energy plan for an entire community or an individual business, Union Gas can help you define and reach your conservation goals.