Written on: August 7, 2023 by Rich Goldberg
At the National Propane Gas Association convention in Nashville, TN, I was asked to lead a panel on fighting forced electrification. Hearing updates from executives in multiple States left me both alarmed and surprisingly optimistic.
The landscape can seem daunting. It should probably not surprise us that, in this era of black-and-white thinking, extremism rules the day in energy policy. Each panelist could cite media stories that distorted the positions of their associations, painted them as climate change deniers or attempted to explain away their legitimate policy objections by attacking their roots in the fossil fuel industry. There’s just one problem: our concerns are justified.
The current legislative landscape
In State after State, we heard about legislators more concerned with being perceived as “climate leaders” than genuinely understanding the implications of the policies they support. Individuals with actual energy distribution experience are shunted to the side. There are legitimate concerns about global warming; however, there are also legitimate concerns about the ability of the electric grid to handle the increased load, particularly since some legislators are also trying to simultaneously switch from reliable fossil fuels to less reliable renewable sources of power. There is also great concern about what all this will cost in places where the cost of living is already out of control.
These policymakers are either purposely or inadvertently underestimating the huge cost and disruption that forced electrification will cause. They seem uninterested in helpful solutions, such as Bioheat® fuel or renewable propane or, frankly, anything that involves combustion, for those alternatives are not “pure” enough. Some policymakers seem to be oblivious to the backlash this will all cause, which will actually set back efforts to limit global warming. Their ears are closed, and in many States, they are calling the shots.
The only thing that will change the equation is if enough moderates hear from enough of their constituents, causing them to realize that this extremism will cost them dearly at the polls. Then, perhaps they might consider a broader path than just “forced electrification.”
Why I’m still cautiously optimistic
Our voter polling in eight States shows that, while a majority of people want to do something about reducing greenhouse gas emissions, their version of “something” looks nothing like what is being pursued by progressives—saving the planet without sacrifice, energy bills that will shrink rather than increase, an electric grid that will become more renewable without becoming even more vulnerable to outages, the generation of good-paying union jobs, and retraining of the displaced workers—this is the “sunshine and lollipops” version of these plans. Warm Thoughts’ various campaigns on behalf of fuel associations have generated more than 125,000 letters to lawmakers and alerted millions of people. We’ve learned an enormous amount along the way, which has helped us become more efficient and effective at getting the word out. We’ve only been able to do this because heating oil and propane companies have provided financial support as if their futures depended on it.
It’s time for everyone in the delivered fuel industry to double down on their involvement. That means spending more money, engaging your customers, supporting your association’s lobbying efforts, and sharing information in ways that are probably unprecedented in this industry. It means supporting renewable fuels development like Bioheat® and renewable propane. If not, we can’t blame anyone but ourselves. ICM